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Elderly sisters survive harrowing experience in Northcliff

Ada Olivier and Santjie Austin share their account of robbery they faced.

What started off as a regular Tuesday for sisters Ada Olivier (76) and Santjie Austin (66), turned into a harrowing experience of robbery and would-be kidnapping.
On the afternoon of April 16, the sisters went with their two dogs, Gracie and Hardie, to a nearby shopping complex to collect a food order they had made, a task that must have taken them about 40 minutes.

When they came back there was a car parked in front of their gate, blocking their access. Thinking it were the people who had previously come to the home to do maintenance work, Ada stepped out the car with the intention to ask them to move their car so they could enter. It was while she walked towards the entrance that she heard Santjie shout, “Oh my goodness, the service gate is open!” while she hurried out the car towards Ada.
A perpetrator had gained access in to their home by using a crowbar to break both this outside gate and the security gate.

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By the time Ada got to the car, looking into it to see who sat in it, an unknown man walked out the yard towards her. “He yelled, ‘Come here, come here, get into the car’ and I had my hands up. My sister starting fighting him, as she was trying to get to me, and then he pushed me to the wall.”
Ada hit the wall quite hard and was knocked out for a few minutes. When she came too, all she heard was her sister’s screams.

“I was just screaming as a way to alert people that something bad was happening,” said Santjie Austin.
Avoiding getting caught, the assailant drove off and it was at the same time that a neighbour, who had heard Santjie’s screams, came to assist them. “They tried to chase after him but couldn’t keep up so they came back again to help us,” said Ada. “Once she got into the house she pressed the panic button and our private security company arrived.”

It was found that TVs, both their cellphones, and all the jewellery had been stolen. “These are all material things; it is my life that matters most. I can’t imagine what I would have done without my sister; if she wasn’t there only God knows what could have happened to me,” Ada said tearfully.
They are extremely appreciative of Beagle Watch Armed Response who, following the incident, is said to have come to their aid in a massive way.

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Ada has lived in this Northcliff home for the past 40 years and it’s only been in the last two years that she has lived with her sister.
“My biggest fear is that they target the elderly,” she said. It is because of this reason that she encourages fellow senior citizens to be extra vigilant and take care of themselves. Following the whole ordeal, the trauma has them be hyper vigilant.
“Now I am constantly thinking, what can I lock? Have I locked this?” Days following the incident Ada would have nightmares, in these dreams she would see the man that had attacked her. She was ultimately also very grateful for her sister, and the actions she did to save her.

Station commander at Sophiatown Police Station Colonel Andile Moshadi said he does not believe that the elderly are people regarded as soft targets. “There is crime all over the world, and remember there are criminals who use the opportunity to commit crime, even if they had no intention to commit it – seeing the opportunity, they end up committing a crime.”
He said vigilance helps as a preventative measure to crimes such as the one the sisters experienced. Moshadi sees it as important that the elderly have a communication network to keep them alert to potential crime and be educated on how to report incidents. “They must have access to products, training and other services that help to prevent victimisation.”

A challenge the colonel mentioned was difficulty of helping the elderly to protect themselves against crime, without raising their fear of crime. “But, I believe that frequent interaction with other community members can help to increase a sense of security and support for all neighbourhood residents.”

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