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Women threatened with crowbars during Kenleaf house robbery

Violet believes the men gained access to the property by jumping a neighbour's wall.

A gang of men terrorised two Kenleaf women in their home and threatened to shoot their dogs during a house robbery last week.

The robbers, armed with crowbars and a gun, casually walked into the Corvette Street home shared by pensioner Violet Botha (68) and her 40-year-old niece Charlene Potterill at 10.45am on Friday.

While at least five men are believed to have been involved in the robbery, Violet saw only three.

She told the Herald she was in her bedroom when she saw a movement outside through the window.

“The security gate at the door leading into the garden at the back was open because I had been busy with washing and was in and out,” she said.

“We are very security conscious and always make sure the gates and doors are locked, but you can’t see the back of the house from the street, so I didn’t think anything of it.”

Her dogs started barking and Violet was horrified to find three men in her bedroom.

One of the robbers approached her and swung his crowbar to strike her.

“He came up to me like he was going to hit me and I was petrified,” she said.

“The crowbar was large, like the ones they use for trucks, and I just thought if he hits me I’m dead.

“I was terrified of it, I would rather he had pointed a gun at me.

“So I held my cellphone out to him and he lowered the crowbar.”

Violet explained the men started shouting and told her not to move.

“They said they would kill me and I suddenly became very calm,” she said.

“I stood so still, kept my eyes down and spoke gently to them.”

The robbers searched the room and demanded her jewellery.

“I was just not emotionally able to remove my wedding rings,” said Violet.

“I told them these rings don’t come off, but they were persistent and said I must use soap and water.

Read: Shot fired during robbery at butchery

“My husband died 17 years ago and I’m obviously quite attached to these rings, so I said to them look, I can’t physically do anything to you, just take whatever you want but please let me keep my rings.

“They all kept quiet and one of them said I could keep them.”

The men asked for money and firearms, and ransacked the room, taking various items of value.

One of the robbers was left to watch over Violet, while the two others left to search the rest of the house.

They came across Charlene, who had been asleep in her bedroom.

“She said there were three of them with her, which means there was another one who I didn’t see,” said Violet.

“They pressed a crowbar to her neck while she was in bed and told her that if she makes one move, they will shoot her.

“That’s when Charlene saw one of the men had a gun.

“They harassed her, violently shook her and picked her up.

“They wanted her car keys, but she refused to hand them over until they brought me to her,” said Violet.

Violet was taken to Charlene and the men were given the car keys.

Throughout the ordeal, the women’s four dogs were going berserk and the robbers threatened to kill the animals if they continued to bark.

“They said shut these dogs up or we will shoot them. I had to hold one of my dogs because he would have bitten them,” said Violet.

The robbers loaded their loot, including cellphones, laptops, jewellery and purses, into pillowcases and shut Violet, Charlene and the dogs in a room.

They also took Charlene’s car, a champagne-coloured Renault Sandero, which she has owned for a mere three months.

“They reversed it and bumped it against a tree,” said Violet, adding that the robbers returned the gate keys before they sped off.

After the robbers made their escape, Charlene sought help from a neighbour, and family members were alerted and the called the police.

Violet believes the men gained access to the property by jumping a neighbour’s wall.

CCTV footage revealed the robbers arrived in a white Toyota Yaris and an eyewitness saw five men fleeing the scene.

While four are likely to have been inside the house, the fifth was probably keeping watch outside.

Violet described the robbers as neat and well dressed.

They spoke English and were young, between the ages of 20 and 30.

The one who kept watch over Violet was wearing a mask and a black cap.

He was dressed in black pants, black shoes and a grey shirt.

“He pulled the cap down over his eyes, so I couldn’t really see his face,” Violet said.

“He was tall and slender, and they were all very aggressive.

“I believe if we have made one wrong move, they definitely would have hurt us.”

Violet has warned residents not to ever let their guard down.

“We always thought the area was safe, I mean our street is just so quiet,” she said.

“This happened so quickly and it has been absolutely traumatic.”

Violet praised Brakpan police for their response and professional service.

“They were wonderful; the forensics department and detectives were all here,” she said.”

Sgt Xaba, who took my statement, was just so nice and they treated us very well.”

A case of house robbery is under investigation.

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or Stacy Slatter (news editor) stacys@caxton.co.za

 or Miné Fourie (journalist) minev@caxton.co.za

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