Durban — Beaten, choked and burnt with cigarettes, a Durban pensioner is in hospital after she was lured out of The Atrium shopping centre in Overport on Tuesday, accused of murder and then bundled into a car and tortured for hours by three “fat” women while a young man drove them around.
The 62-year-old woman says she was walking down the spiral staircase in the shopping centre when an elderly woman suddenly touched her from behind and said she needed help.
“She said carry on walking we will talk to you at the bottom of the stairs.”
Once there, two younger women appeared and said there was a problem outside that they wanted her to resolve. She demanded to know what was happening but they strong-armed her out into Juniper Road.
“One woman pulled out a police card and said she was a member of the police force and that I was an accomplice in a murder and a robbery. I said what, and she said, ‘you better shut up you b**ch and get into the car’.”
Astounded, the pensioner protested and tried to get away but they threatened to shoot her, pushed her into a white car and sped away.
“I tried to escape but they had me in between two fat women on the back seat.”
She thought the elderly woman was also in trouble and tried to warn her before realising they were all in cahoots.
“They then started slapping me all the way down Sydenham hill and as they took the freeway there was a major accident and they tied my neck with a long blue scarf and covered me because they thought there was a roadblock and that someone would see me. At one stage when they strangled me, my tongue actually hung out and my eyeballs turned, I literally froze and thought, ‘I’m dead now’.”
The beating continued all the way to Umlazi where they stole her bank cards, two phones and the R1000 cash in her wallet.
“They said, ‘right we are working, and you need to give us your pin numbers’. I gave the pin six times incorrectly and every time I gave it incorrectly they beat me up and strangled me,” she said.
They beat her with various car tools and burnt her with cigarettes while trying to draw money from her various bank cards. She said in between the withdrawals they would drop off the elderly woman who went on shopping sprees for alcohol, cigarettes and juice.
Then they saw the banking app on her phone and tried to access all the money, even forcing her to call the bank.
“They told me they do this every single day,” the victim said.
After almost five hours they dumped her on the side of the road and drove off. She approached a man who took her to the Umlazi police station.
The woman’s romantic partner said that he had spoken to her just before the incident because she went to the shopping centre to renew his car’s licence.
Then he couldn’t reach her for hours and became concerned. Almost five hours later he received a hysterical phone call from her pleading for him to fetch her at a police station in Umlazi.
“I was so worried, it was raining, she was hurt and then I was concerned that because I was driving a Toyota, which is a high-risk car, that I would be hijacked.”
The man said he had to carry her to the car because she was too weak to walk. Her face was swollen, her neck badly bruised and her hands were covered in blood because the attackers had broken off all her nails. At the hospital, she was taken to the intensive care unit because her kidneys were affected by the battering.
Private investigator Brad Nathanson says it was the sixth such incident he had heard about in the past three months.
In the first case, an elderly woman was walking down a street in Pinetown when a woman who pretended to be a police officer, accused her of being a crime suspect. Nathanson said the elderly woman was bundled into a white Polo and then driven to Umlazi by three women and a male driver, where they kept on hitting and throttling her for hours.
“They wanted her to phone a relative who could rescue her from the place she was in; in other words, pay a ransom. It started out at a ridiculous figure and was eventually settled on R7000 which was all that her son could pay and that’s how his mom was released.”
Nathanson has urged women to scream as loud as possible when attacked, to wear a whistle and not to venture out alone.
On Saturday, Colin Bruyns the operations manager at The Atrium said that they had not been notified about the attack.
“All I've seen are the social media posts that's been going around. No one has actually come to us to report it,” said Bruyns.