Crime victim clings to life
One bullet has caused so much damage… but my brother is going to fight for his life. We won’t give up,” were the desperately hopeful words from Charlene Kelly yesterday.
The sister of the 35-year-old Jacques Oosthuizen was speaking from hospital where the latest victim of crime-ridden Hillcrest is in intensive care.
The husband and father of two was shot at his home in Braeside Road in Waterfall on Thursday after a gang of at least three men attacked around 8pm.
Kelly, her mother, Jacques’s wife, Samantha, and the couple’s children have been keeping a vigil at his bedside.
Kelly said the bullet “seems to have ricocheted inside him because it has damaged his lungs, spleen, stomach, liver, kidney and pancreas”.
His shooting was the latest in a string of serious crime incidents in Durban this week.
On Friday in Ntuzuma, near KwaMashu, eight gunmen killed four people at a pension payout. The robbers were armed with shotguns and LM4 automatic assault rifles.
Two security guards were shot dead, another was mowed down as the robbers made their getaway and a pensioner was shot dead in the crossfire.
The ANC said it was “appalled” by the brutality of that robbery.
A suspect was later arrested in connection with the attack.
On Wednesday in Ashley, near Pinetown, Kallie Potgieter, 78, was murdered in his home by assailants who stole his bakkie. Police later arrested four suspects.
KZN DA leader Sizwe Mchunu yesterday lashed out at the government’s failure to deal with the crime spike.
“You don’t have to wait until a criminal activity surfaces before you act. You put in place measures to deter crimes… like more patrols,” he said.
Hillcrest Park Neighbourhood Watch chairman Shaun Lyle slated the government, saying crime was out of control.
He said the authorities were unable to nail repeat offenders out on bail. There had been about 14 major violent crimes in the upper Highway area since December. They included murder, shootings and stabbings.
Crime was an “everyday” occurrence, he said. Criminals terrorising the area were “brutally violent, career criminals”.
This week provincial police commissioner Mmamonnye Ngobeni sent a team of 63 policemen to the Highway area, including tactical reaction officers, detectives and crime intelligence officers.
Lyle said the area was still “very tense”.
“We’re happy that the police have finally admitted that there is a serious problem. They have stepped up and taken some serious action and we are eagerly waiting for a breakthrough.”
Lyle said that since the beginning of the year the police had made nine arrests.
“We are more confident since we have more police in the area, but we are also working hard on our side. We have increased our patrols because people are still tense. But we are very encouraged by the presence of the task team.”
Police efforts have been supplemented by private security companies, including Enforce, Blue, ADT and Chubb, all of which increased their patrols in the Highway area and helped police in some cases.
Yesterday Kelly said her brother was on a ventilator and was “not out of danger at all”. “His wife is being very strong. His son Storm (10) and his daughter, Claudia (15) seem to be okay. We are confident that my brother is going to fight for his life. He won’t give up.”
Kelly said it had been Claudia’s birthday yesterday and the family tried to distract the teenager with a trip to treat her.
“This is a horrific situation for our family to be in. We got some good news today. Jacques’s pancreas isn’t as badly damaged as initially suspected. He’ll need dialysis, but he won’t need a kidney transplant.
“We’re praying for these small little victories… but the men responsible for this must be taken off the street. They need to pay.”
Kelly said her brother, a salesman, had moved with his family from Newcastle only last month.
Samantha had heard one of the robbers telling her husband that he wouldn’t have shot him if he hadn’t put up a fight. He was also stabbed.
Samantha had begged them to let her attend to her husband’s wounds.
One stood by with a gun as she did. The children huddled around their parents until one of the robbers led Storm around the house looking for valuables and the gun safe, which was empty except for a pellet gun.
Kelly said the boy was told he would be shot if he lied to them.
The robbers loaded up Oosthuiizen’s 4X4 and their loot included the fridge, food items, jewellery, a laptop, clothing and toilet paper.
Kelly said that before they left Samantha had begged them to leave her car so she could take her husband to hospital.
They agreed, but warned her to wait for them to make their getaway.
She drove to the hospital as soon as they had left.
About 1km down the road she sped past her husband’s bakkie, where the robbers were milling around the vehicle.
It appeared that the anti-hijacking device had activated.
She accelerated, fearing they would try to shoot her.
Private investigator Brad Nathanson said the suspects could have been linked to a similar “home invasion” nearby in Valley Drive, Forest Hills, 10 days ago.
Information relating to both attacks led his team to a house in New Germany on Friday and the alleged kingpin involved in the attacks was arrested along with another man.
The suspected mastermind worked for a building company that had done renovations on both houses.
Explaining how the arrests unfolded, Nathanson said: “We tracked the suspects to a house in New Germany. They were extremely high on whoonga. They were like zombies. I don’t think they even knew their names.
“When we hit the house in New Germany, two of the three suspects were there. These guys who operate gangs don’t usually keep exhibits in their den, but we found cellphones and camera equipment that may link the suspects to other cases.”
Police spokesman Colonel Vincent Mdunge said criminals in the Highway area were “backing off” since the police’s build up.
Mdunge said while he did not know the “exact number”, the police had made arrests in connection with every major recent incident in the Highway area.
Nathanson confirmed Lyle’s figure of nine suspects arrested in connection with the latest crime spree, including two for the murder of Rodney Bradley in Kloof last week.
Waterfall Councillor Sithembiso Maria-Goret cited rampant drug abuse in the area as a contributor to the ongoing crime spree.
Maria-Goret said: “Whoonga is the drug that is making some people do all these nasty things. Police are trying their best but the lack of vehicles is their main impediment.
“We are happy that Commissioner Mmamonnye has deployed more police. I just hope they have also been given extra vehicles.
“If not, they will be just sitting behind a desk.”