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Doctor injured in house break-in

“Instead of the violence of our attack causing me to lose faith in our society, the kindness and love that we have been shown at this time has strengthened my faith in the community in which we live.”

These were the heartfelt words of a local specialist physician who survived an attack during a horrific home invasion drama on Thursday 11 June. The 65-year-old Somerset West resident was assaulted by two armed robbers in front of his wife, while his son was tied up in his downstairs bedroom.

Speaking to DistrictMail on condition of anonymity, he expressed sincerest gratitude for the support he and his family have received from an “amazing” Helderberg community, and commended the professionalism of the police and Mediclinic Vergelegen staff. He said he and his family had no desire to garner any sympathy or sensationalise their trauma.

Recalling the traumatic experience, the physician’s wife remembered waking up to the intruders just after midnight. She said their little dog on their bed raised the alarm, and suddenly the lights went on and they were confronted by two men in masks wielding what appeared to be a crowbar and small axe.

“My first reaction was terror that my son, who stays downstairs, had been harmed,” the wife said. “I screamed once or twice loudly, hoping it would warn him of danger in case they had missed him.

“[My husband] stood up from the bed and was immediately attacked by one of the men. The other advanced towards me and asked for cash and the safe. I realised I needed to start thinking as clearly as possible to get them out of the house. I took them to the safe and gave them the cash we kept there. I was desperate for them to leave so I could see to [my husband], who I realised was grievously injured, and my son. They left almost immediately, and I ran to the room where [my husband] was.”

The physician recalled opening his eyes to two masked men standing beside the bed leaping up, but not much after. “I remember waking up on the floor on the other side of the bedroom with blood streaming down my face. At that point, [my wife] was getting the intruders out of the house.”

His wife ran down to their son’s room after seeing to her husband and found him tied up with the cord of an electric blanket. “I untied him, grabbed the panic button, and he went to call our neighbours for help.”

Although most of the details of what happened are patchy to the physician, he remembers being relieved at seeing their neighbour as he was helped downstairs into the family car. “Once our neighbour, also a doctor, had quickly assessed [my husband], I raced him to hospital where he was treated for a cracked scull, lacerations and blood loss.”

Asked how he felt about the incident, the physician said: “I feel grateful to be alive, as if I have been granted a second chance.”

His wife said they were severely traumatised, and did not think that their security could be breeched so easily. The family was receiving trauma counselling, which has been as vital as the unstinting support had received from family, friends and the community.

“We are living in very difficult times, and I believe the next few months may see increase in crime. Each household should do a type of crime drill to go through what they would do in the event of a crime. You never think it can happen to you. I was in a similar situation many years ago and applied what I had learnt then. Stay as calm as you can, don’t try to be a hero and get them out as soon as possible.”

Sergeant Suzan Jantjies, spokesperson for Somerset West police, confirmed the incident, saying police responded at 00:30. A case of house robbery was being investigated. Personal belongings and an undisclosed amount of money were stolen. No arrests had been made.

Anyone with information that may aid the investigation can contact the investigating officer, Detective Sergeant Berchille Allies, on 021 850 1302.

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