Armed robberies at homes are possibly linked

MBOMBELA – Two armed robberies which occurred in the city within a week are believed to be linked. According to Hi-Tech Security Nelspruit operations manager, Mr Callum MacPherson, it was highly unlikely that the incidents are not linked. The descriptions of the vehicles used in the two crimes match, as does the modus operandi of the criminals.

The second incident in Skalie Street, West Acres on Tuesday at 21:30 followed an armed robbery in Liberty Street, Steiltes on Monday at 18:40. Lowvelder spoke to Mr Koos Schoonraad and Ms Elmarie van Deventer who were attacked at their home in Skalie Street.

Van Deventer said they had just finished watching television at 21:30 when Schoonraad went outside to his vehicle, which was parked outside their gate. “I wanted to park my vehicle in the yard when two men with guns approached me,” he said. A skirmish broke out. They wanted the keys of his vehicle. “I fought them. At one stage they even ripped off my shirt and hit me on the head with a gun.”

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He called out to Van Deventer to lock the house. She looked out of the window and saw what was happening and tried to phone for help, but by that time another suspect had entered the house. “Before I knew it, a man with a balaclava held a gun to my head. I gave him my phone hoping he would just go away,” she said.

The suspect was extremely calm and took her by the arm and led her to the door. According to Schoonraad, by this time the noise had alerted their neighbours who came out shouting.

The men got into a dark-blue vehicle and drove off. They did not get a good look at the car or the attackers, but said the firearms looked like nine-millimetre pistols.

The visibly upset couple said all through the incident they were anticipating that the suspects were going to shoot them. “All we were waiting for is that shot to go off.” Hi-Tech Security Nelspruit was called by a neighbour who is a client of the company. “Hi-Tech, Bossies Community Justice, the police and Netcare emergency medical services responded fast to help,” said Van Deventer.

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Earlier this week a similar armed robbery occurred in Steiltes. The family was attacked in their home by armed robbers wearing dust masks. Ms Lara Kruger was speaking to her friend in the driveway. Her friend’s handicapped daughter was also present. Her husband, Mr Vernus Kruger explained that six armed robbers descended on them and forced them into the house through the garage door.

The suspects were wearing dust masks, gloves and dark-blue overalls.

“The handicapped child was pushed so she fell, and Lara’s friend was ordered to lie on the floor,” Vernus said. According to him, Lara kept the suspects’ attention away from their daughter Michelle’s bedroom. She phoned her father, after which she phoned Hi-Tech’s control room.

“They demanded that my wife open the safe by holding a gun to her head. The suspects found a firearm in the safe and took it. They got away with about R100 000’s worth of goods ranging from jewellery, phones, tablets, to a laptop and TV,” Vernus said. He thought the suspects must have realised his wife had also managed to press the panic button as they left soon afterwards.

Hi-Tech Security operations manager,Mr Nico Grobler, said when Michelle contacted their control room they could hear the perpetrators in the house.”We immediately responded to the call and contacted the police.” They missed the perpetrators who fled in a dark-blue BMW 3 Series with an unknown registration plate. We even tried to block off all exits in the area, but they were too fast,” he said.

Grobler warned the public to be extremely vigilant in the early hours of the evening and before 22:00.

“These armed gangs realise that people are more relaxed when they get home from work and are cooking dinner. This is when most attacks happen,” he said.

The family has excellent security but the perpetrators took advantage of a gap. Kruger said they were traumatised but nobody was injured.

According to police spokesman, Capt Dawie Pretorius, the police are investigating the robberies.

MacPherson concluded that their team had deployed four extra vehicles in Mbombela during these crucial hours since Tuesday.

Read more here: Guard shot and stabbed during a robbery

  AUTHOR
Tereasa Dias
Journalist

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