Attacker meets his moses with Rustenburg family


WARNING: Photos in the post may upset sensitive readers.

An attacker encountered his enemies when he broke into the Van der Merwe family of Rustenburg in the early hours of Tuesday morning.

Charné van der Merwe, the daughter, says she woke up to someone in the room where she was sleeping. At first she thought it was her mother, but when the person did not reassure her and also took her and her daughter’s mobile phones from the charger, she suspected something was wrong.

Charné and her six-year-old daughter currently live with her little brother Hennie, at their parents’ house in Kruger Street. Her father underwent back surgery three weeks ago and still has to wear a brace around his body.

Moreover, her parents, Hennie and Sienie van der Merwe, only moved into the house last Sunday after they left their farm Lindleyspoort.

Charné and her brother wanted to support their parents during the trek, especially because her father is still recovering after the operation.

Charné did not keep her waiting. She immediately grabbed the burglar. “He got free, but I grabbed him again and gave him a blow.”

The burglar wanted to close the door in front of her, but she was able to open the door and with that noise her little brother came to investigate.

“We fought with him throughout the house. Meanwhile, my father also got involved and held the boy. He wanted to escape through the window.”

The family suspects that a second burglar was also on the scene, because the person they apprehended kept shouting for help to an accomplice outside the house.

“We still don’t know where he got in.”

Meanwhile, Charné was able to take her six-year-old daughter to her mother’s room so she wouldn’t see what was happening. “I heard her cry. She kept saying ‘they’re going to hurt my mum’, but I reassured her.”

Charné asked her mother to call the police and fetch a nylon rope from the garage with which they could tie up the burglar.

“The police took a long time to respond. The ambulance also did not respond at all.”

The family appealed to the local community policing forum.

The attacker meanwhile claims the family grabbed him from the street and assaulted him. “The police also say we refused to take them through the crime scene.”

She says that unfortunately they could not show the police the knife with which the man attacked them, because the knife, during the fight, fell from the window outside the house.

Charné suffered a knife wound to her head and eye. Her eyelid is still swelling and the doctors haven’t been able to put stitches in her yet. “I struggle with my eye. I have to constantly clean him and keep taking antibiotics.”

Her brother Hennie suffered five knife wounds and lost a lot of blood at the scene. He was taken to Med24. He received four stitches for the knife wound to his collarbone, five stitches for the wound on the right back of his back, three stitches for the wound on his chest, fourteen stitches where his elbow was cut open to the bone and four stitches where his little finger was cut open is.

Her father also suffered a knife wound under his arm on his shoulder blade. “The boy wanted to stab him in the stomach as well. One can see the knife mark on the prop.”

Charné says she doesn’t think the attacker knew what he was letting himself in for. “I don’t think he thought I was going after him and I suspect he didn’t know there were so many people in the house either. One does not feel the knife wounds while fighting, one’s adrenaline is too high. You have to choose: it’s my life or his life.”

Her parents already bought the house in 2004, but have had tenants in the house since then. However, the previous tenant is still with their complete alarm system (including the eyes), a 120-year-old table and even the roof fans. Locks from the gates were also removed. The previous tenant was also several months in arrears with his rent payment and sent threats to her parents.

The family is unsure whether the house may have been targeted because of the previous tenants who lived there or whether the house may have just been seen as a soft target.

The alarm system was to be installed the same day before the attack took place.

“However, the boy chose the wrong house on the wrong day,” says Charné.

Her little daughter is still very traumatized after the incident and will definitely need counseling.

“I am grateful that my little brother was there that night. His fiance also lives in town, but he decided to sleep over when we were hanging out in the house so late. Now we try to keep our spirits up and we try to keep our faith together. We have a lot of questions and we wonder why this happened, but we are trying to keep it together.”

Brig. Sabata Mokgwabone, provincial spokesperson for the police, confirmed to RNews that a case of housebreaking and assault had been filed.

“A case of assault with intent to seriously injure has also been filed for the serious injuries sustained by the suspect. He is currently under police guard in the hospital.”

Mokgwabone says the investigation is ongoing.