While the 65-year-old woman lay writhing in pain from the acid that burnt her face while two of her young grandchildren watched cartoons on television in another room.
The Lenasia woman, who declined to be named, is still reeling from last Wednesdays encounter. She told POST she now finds it difficult to trust anyone.
Recalling the incident, the woman said husband allowed the man onto their property to clean the garden, before he left for work. The woman had first met the homeless man three weeks ago, during a feeding programme held by an NGO that she supported.
“I was watching cartoons in the lounge with my grandchildren (aged 6 and 10) who did not go to school because they were both ill and the domestic worker was cleaning,” said the woman.
She then went to look for the domestic worker in the kitchen but could not find her and decided to check on the gardener.
“He had the cleaning acid, which we use for the swimming pool, in his hands,” she said. “I did not think much of it because we sometimes used the acid to remove stains from around the pool area.”
But as she turned to head indoors, the man caught her by the neck and poured the acid onto her head, she said. The mother of five felt an excruciating burning sensation as the liquid ran down her face.
“I felt my skin burning and started screaming and tried to fight him off but he threatened to hit me, demanding I stop shouting for help.”
The man took her indoors to her domestic worker’s room.
“I was in pain. My face continued to burn while he pushed and shoved me back into my house.”
By then his accomplice had gained entry into the home and stood watch over the domestic worker, whose hands and feet were bound with shoe lace and a cloth stuffed into her mouth.
“She could not stop crying.”
The woman pleaded with the men not to hurt them or her grandchildren.
“They tied me up with shoelaces and put tape over my mouth before locking me in the bathroom.”
The duo proceeded to tie the children with shoelaces and left them in a bedroom with the domestic worker.
They ransacked the house and demanded the children tell them where the safe and valuables were kept.
“The children remained calm and they did not scream or cry. They followed the robbers instructions.”
“While this was happening, one of my daughters called home and one of the two men answered the phone. He told her I was busy outside and could not come to the phone.
“Knowing I would drop everything to take her call, my daughter told him she was on her way to the house to visit and hung up the phone.”
The domestic worker had informed the woman thereafter that the men had become anxious, grabbing whatever they believed was valuable before running away.
“My grandchildren managed to somehow free themselves and called a relative for help.” The woman was rushed to hospital. “I was lucky only a small part of my face was burnt. I am hoping that the scar heals.”
Since the incident, she said she had lost faith in humanity.
“I met him (the culprit) three weeks earlier at a non-profit organisation I provide meals for. People were helping him get back on his feet as he was homeless. We gave him a job in the hope it would help but he turned on me.”
Lenasia police spokesperson Captain Hector Netshivhodza said police arrested four suspects linked to the robbery at the weekend. The men, in their early twenties, were charged with robbery and attempted murder and are due to appear in the Lenasia Magistrate’s Court this week.