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13 July 2011 at 09:45 - Posted by Anonymous

Family hostage drama


A mother, with her daughter and sister, recall their terrifying ordeal. They and 16 other family members were robbed and held hostage for more than five hours on a smallholding in Midrand. Their isiZulu-speaking attackers said life wasn't fair, as they ha

A Joburg family has told of the horror of having 19 of its members robbed and held hostage for more than five hours while they were gathered in solidarity for a sick uncle.

The family, who do not want to be identified because they fear their attackers will come after them, were at their aunt’s smallholding in Midrand on Saturday night because an uncle, who was in hospital, had been given only hours to live.

They could not believe what was happening when a gang of five men held them up with handguns.

“We were in the courtyard, around a fire, when I heard a sound. It was a gun being cocked,” said one woman. “It was so surreal. In that moment, I thought it was family, playing a game.”

The large family group was told to keep quiet and get onto the floor. Four of the men were wearing balaclavas – one was not scared to show his face.

“I was making a pot of tea and had four children with me, aged between three to six,” said another woman. “I saw a man with a gun. It took me a few seconds to register what was happening.”

Everyone was brought into the courtyard and they were told to hand over cellphones, handbags and jewellery.

They were then marched one by one into a tiny child’s bedroom in the house.

The family was forced to lie on one another as the room was too small to hold all 19 of them.

They were held in the room for four hours, with the gunmen coming in, pointing their weapons at them and demanding things like money, which they did not have.

“They banged the burglar bars and told us they would lock us in the room and burn all of us,” the mother said.

“They asked us if we were from Durban, and said they were Zulu. They said life wasn’t fair because they were looking for white people.”

The gunmen wanted to take one of the woman’s cousins and have him drive them to Soweto. They found a policeman’s card in one of the women’s handbag and when she tried to explain she wasn’t a cop, they took her four-year-old child out of her arms and said they would take the child away.

“I gave up hope, resigning myself to die. I kept on thinking I hope I die without feeling any pain,” another woman said.

Eventually, they were led into a bigger room and told to wait there for an hour.

“We were in such despair and distress. We looked for containers to go to the toilet, but we said ‘just wet yourself. It doesn’t matter’.”

Eventually, some of the men kicked down the door. They had been attacked at 10pm and came out of the room at 3.30am.

Four cars had been stolen and the house had been ransacked. One of the cars, a 4x4, was recovered in Tembisa by Tracker, but there have been no arrests.

The mother said police were shocked that so many people had been held up for so long without anyone knowing.

The family is only now starting to break down.

“I find myself crying in public and I don’t care who sees me,” the mother said.

“They have our business cards, our addresses. They took all our keys. The shivering inside doesn’t want to stop.”

- The Star

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