Durban – “I hoped he wasn’t going to do an ‘Oscar’ on us.” That’s what ran through Ruaan Liebenberg’s mind when he and three friends from Vanderbijlpark were held hostage and then locked in a toilet in a Westville home by three armed men at about lunchtime on Thursday.
But the men aren’t letting the ordeal stop their coastal holiday – they left for Port Shepstone on Friday.
The four friends, Jason Glaser-Jansen, 22, Ruan Myburgh, 24, and brothers Ruaan, 24, and Rainier Liebenberg, 22, from Gauteng, were holidaying at a relative’s house in the upmarket Durban suburb this week when the hooded men invaded the home, forced them to lie face-down on the floor and shouted at them to open the safe.
One of the intruders continually hit Ruaan Liebenberg on the head and face with his gun.
Liebenberg said: “I was outside when I saw some people wearing balaclavas running up the driveway. I immediately ran into the house to lock the back door, but one guy was already inside with a gun. He told me to lie down on the ground.”
His brother Rainier and Jason Glaser-Jansen tried to escape, but were caught by two of the robbers who forced them into the house. Ruan Myburgh was already in the house and was also rounded up.
All four men were forced to lie down. Liebenberg said one of the intruders “sat on my back and kept hitting me with the butt of his gun. I was bleeding a lot.
“They kept threatening us and asking us where the safe was. We are here on holiday and didn’t even know if there was a safe in the house,” said Liebenberg.
As one of the men held them at gunpoint, the other two ransacked the house, seizing electronic goods.
“The one holding a gun over me pushed us all into the toilet. I just hoped he wasn’t going to do an ‘Oscar’ on us,” said Liebenberg.
Ruan Myburgh had kept his cellphone hidden and had slid it into the toilet.
“The best feeling was when they locked us in that toilet. I didn’t want to make a noise, so I sent a message to my uncle but then it (message) didn’t go through.
“We waited a bit and I phoned my uncle and spoke in a whisper. The police arrived very quickly, but the intruders had gone. The whole thing probably lasted 15 or 20 minutes, but it felt like two hours,” said Myburgh.
Liebenberg, who was bleeding profusely, was taken to Westville Hospital by a neighbour, Bruce Sutcliffe, who is also an active member of the Grayleigh Neighbourhood Watch.
“The immediate neighbour to the property heard shouting and raised the alarm,” said Sutcliffe. “We rushed there and blocked the driveway, but the suspects had already left. Their vehicle has been caught on camera.”
He added that the road was generally safe, with few incidents reported.
Myburgh said that although they did not sleep on Thursday night after the incident, they were going to continue with their holiday, leaving Durban only on Friday for Port Shepstone.
“This was just one day of our holiday and all the other days were great. We have been going down to the beach and enjoying Durban; we would definitely come back despite what has happened,” said Myburgh.
Westville Community Police Forum (CPF) chairman Mike Myers said crime in Westville had been “pretty quiet” over the festive season.
“There has been a general increase in crime across the country in the last six months, and considering the size of Westville and the fact we were coming off a low crime rate, the perceived level of crime can easily be blown out of proportion,” said Myers.
Christmas Day saw a family in Westville being held at gunpoint when a gang of armed men stormed into their home late at night, stealing televisions and cellphones.
On Friday SAPS KZN spokeswoman, Colonel Thembeka Mbhele, confirmed a case of house robbery had been opened at Westville Police Station.
“Police are investigating. Crime in Westville has been stable over the festive period. Police have increased patrols in the area.
Source: Independent on Saturday