Shaik’s ransacked room after the brazen robbery.
Shaik’s ransacked room after the brazen robbery.
One robber left a magazine behind, which Shaik covered with a bag to keep it for evidence.
One robber left a magazine behind, which Shaik covered with a bag to keep it for evidence.
Robbers stormed a house north of Verulam on Tuesday morning and threatened to burn a young child, in an attempt to gain access to the family’s safe.
Robbers stormed a house north of Verulam on Tuesday morning and threatened to burn a young child, in an attempt to gain access to the family’s safe.

Durban - A Verulam family were traumatised by a home invasion this week in which armed robbers made a father choose between giving up his life’s savings and having his 5-year-old daughter roasted in an oven.

When Tahir Shaik woke up on Tuesday morning, he planned to celebrate his last day of leave with his family, perhaps with an outing to the city or an afternoon on the beach. Little did he know that in a few minutes he would be lying on the floor with a gun pointed at his head.

Shaik and his family, including his wife, daughter, elderly parents-in-law and brother-in-law, have been living in a remote area north of Verulam for several years.

Shaik relived the incident with the Tribune Herald.

“The night before the attack I sat outside my house with my friends playing cards until the early hours of the morning, believing we were safe,” Shaik said.

At 8.30am, four men broke into Shaik’s home and held his family hostage at gunpoint. Two men entered Shaik’s room, forcing him and his wife to lie face-down on the floor, but Shaik could not think clearly, knowing his daughter was alone in the bathroom at the time.

“As they tied us up, one of them brought my daughter from the bathroom and gave her to me. I just held her in my arms,” he said.

The robbers repeatedly demanded the couple’s valuables, but Shaik did not have access to the family’s safe which infuriated the men who began threatening the young girl.

“They said, ‘We’ll roast your daughter, we’ll put her in the oven and burn her’. They kept shouting and waving around a bottle of liquid which they said they would burn my child with. I had heard of these things happening. You see it on Facebook and I feared the worst,” Shaik said.

With his daughter’s life in his hands, Shaik, after being untied by the robbers, directed them to a spade which the men used to forcefully open the safe that had been concealed in his room.

The family, bound by nylon ropes and cable ties, looked on helplessly as their home was ransacked by the robbers who unknowingly left behind evidence which may hopefully lead to arrests.

Shaik, who was tied up again before the robbers left, said: “One man dropped the magazine from his gun, and left a bottle of liquid they threatened my daughter with. When they weren’t looking, I pushed a bag over the items with my foot. As they were leaving, one robber returned to look for the magazine, but he was called away by his accomplice, and they were gone within seconds.”

Prem Balram, head of Reaction Unit South Africa, confirmed the incident and recovered the evidence.

Shaik has returned to work as the family get over the trauma.

Shaik said: “Being calm helped in this case. We must always remember that while we are scared, they are also scared of being caught and anything we do will agitate them.

“We’ve built up our lives over several years here and they snatched it in minutes.”

SUNDAY TRIBUNE