Hout Bay woman traumatised after home robbery
Cape Town - FOR one Hout Bay resident and her baby, the rising home invasion statistics became a terrifying reality two weeks ago on a Tuesday night when four men broke into her home.
Home robberies are among the most feared crimes in South Africa, according to Police Minister Bheki Cele, and they’re on the rise.
When Cele released the crime statistics for July to September last week, he revealed that during the recent months of lockdown, some criminals targeted homes instead of business premises.
“While many citizens are still working from home due to the nationwide lockdown, incidents of home invasions have increased by 8.5%. On the other hand, cases of business robberies have declined by the same percentage.”
The woman, who asked to remain anonymous for fear of her safety, said the men spent around half an hour scouring the house and searching through cupboards for anything valuable they could toss in bags, including jewellery, electronics and running shoes.
“I was in the lounge with a girl friend of mine and we were painting our nails,” she said.
“Pretty shockingly, the sliding door slid open and four guys walked in with guns and knives and pangas and screwdrivers. We jumped up and screamed. We had no idea what was going to happen next. They quieted us down and said they weren't there to hurt us, just to get what they wanted.”
The robbers were unexpectedly polite and considerate throughout their raid of her home.
“They seemed so comfortable, they knew their job, and they came prepared,” she said. “I had my baby sleeping in the next door room. When they went into my baba’s room, I got more hysterical. They said relax, nothing’s going to happen to you or your baby. They were weirdly quiet inside the baby’s room. They turned on the light, but luckily my baby slept through the whole thing. When they left the room they turned off the light.”
When the robbers left, they threatened the women not to call for help, and that if they heard an alarm, they would come back.
Just a week after her home was robbed, the same men returned to the property to rob another home on the premises.
JJ de Villiers, who leads Community Crime Prevention in Hout Bay and responded to this incident, said the robbers are a particular group who do hits all over the Western Cape.
“They almost come across as polite. They use the mountain to traverse 10 to 15km sometimes, and hit on the edges of suburbs.”
The group are professionals and rob homes as if it’s their job.
“These guys do it for a living. Most of them are very organised and they do it for status.
They walk around during the day wearing Fabiani.”
De Villiers said this time of year is typically high season for home robberies.
“There has been an increase, but October and specifically November are usually the busiest months for house robberies. Every year this time of year, there’s a big release from prisons, so that’s one factor, and the second factor is that people before they go home (for the festive season), they need to stock up to take money home.”
For the Hout Bay victim, two weeks later she is still staying with friends and family while she processes the trauma of her home being robbed.
“Every time I go back (home), it gives me anxiety. I still feel like the invasion shattered what was my safe space that I would come home to,” she said. “It’s required a lot of counselling. It’s a process of recovery, but you still feel the trauma in your body. You get a fright from any little sound, anything that reminds you of the occasion.”
She said she wanted to share her story to warn others to take precautions, even if they feel safe and relaxed at home.
“It has woken me up to security and safety (precautions) that I need to take in the future,” she said. “It will never be the same again.”