A few fellow bloggers have picked up on something I have mentioned in passing on the odd occasion and have specifically requested that I do a post on it. To be perfectly honest it is not something I really wanted to blog about but perhaps it is time to tell the story.
I am typically a glass is half full type of person and I always believe there is good in everyone. I also don't believe in the death penalty, but after the incident I am telling you about below, I am a strong believer that some people should be put against a wall and shot - and I am happy to pull the trigger. So enough babbling and let me start....
This took place on the evening of the 12th August 2009. It was my first son's 21st birthday the next day. We had a guest with us for the evening so we decided to go out for dinner. Not something we typically do midweek and we were out later than normal.
We returned at around 8.45pm. It was bedtime for son no 3 & 4 and they went straight to their rooms to get ready for bed. It was also way past Hubby's bedtime as he is a very early riser so he went off to bed as well. Son no 3 was down the passage showing our guest where to settle for the night and Son no 1 was in our home office.
I was doing a general tidy up of the lounge with the help of my future daughter-in-law, ready for our birthday ritual the following morning. We usually get up extra early when it is someones birthday and we all sit down to a cup of tea or hot chocolate while we wish the birthday girl/boy and hand out presents. It means you don't have to wait all day to get your presents at the end of the day.
I popped into the kitchen to get rid of dirty dishes and my daughter-in-law went out to get my sons birthday presents out of the boot of her car.
I walked back into the lounge, bent over the coffee table to straighten it out. Something made me look up and I saw a black man in a balaclava leaning against the doorway leading to our passage.
My heart stopped. I had a thousand things going through my brain. Did someone ring the doorbell without me hearing and hubby or one of my sons let him in. Was he collecting something. At first, I did not realise he was here to harm us. I thought through a hundred combinations of why he would legitimately be standing in the middle of my lounge. In the end none of it made sense and I suddenly realised what was happening.
My immediate reaction was to calmly ask him what he wanted. My family was down the passage and I certainly did not want them disturbed and I was willing to give him whatever he wanted. Deep down inside I wanted to scream, but this would alert the rest of the family. Then another man appeared through the front door and he went straight down the passage. Son no 1 appeared out of the office and we were both told to sit in a corner of the lounge with our hands on our heads. My heart was pounding.....
Then another man appeared.
Then the rest of my family slowly appeared one by one and sat with us on the floor.
We were told to take off all our jewelry. Back then I did'nt wear any fake jewelry I had a rolex watch on (not a huge flashy one - just one that said, hey, I have worked hard enough to deserve to wear one). Slowly we all removed our jewelry and handed it over.
Then my daughter-in-law appeared at the front door with an arm full of presents and she walked straight into the situation. She too was directed to sit on the floor. She dropped all presents onto the couch. She was asked to remove her jewelry .
All of a sudden more of them appeared and there were now 6 men standing in my lounge. They all had balaclavas on. The head guy was holding a panga (machete or long bladed weapon) and was chewing on a toothpick. The rest all had hand guns. They were holding them funny as they all wore heavy woolen gloves so they could not hold the guns properly.
Hubby was asked where our safe was and where we kept our guns. We don't have either and hubby told him.
They then started asking for our cellphones and one by one we all handed them over. There were 8 of us and each of us has a cellphone. They then asked for the chargers for the cellphones and started stripping the lounge and bedrooms of all electronic gadgets and equipment. We each had a laptop and these were gathered up. They brought them all into the lounge and we were each asked to switch on our laptops and cellphones to make sure there were no passwords on. Then they were all switched off and piled up on the side. Camera's and all other valuables were found.
Hubby was asked once again where the safe and guns were. He once again explained we didn't have any.
Son no 1 had his laptop in the lounge but his charger was in the cottage (him and his future wife lived in the cottage on our property back then). They asked him to go and get it and one of the men went with him. I was terrified. Would this be the last time I saw my son..... I cant explain how I felt watching him walk out the house with this man.
My legs were killing me. I was sitting on my knees and my legs were going numb.
Son no 1 reappeared. Relief..... He sat down with us again.
My daughter-in-law was sitting next to me and we made eye contact. Something made us look down at the same time and we noticed she had not handed over her engagement ring. We looked at each other and we knew what we were each thinking. She slowly removed it and managed to throw it under the couch near her. Hoping it would not be noticed.
Hubby was asked again where the safe was. Again he explained we did not have one.
One of the men then came over to the couch near us. He was going through the presents and ripping them open. I was looking at his feet and noticed that he had very small feet and wore black nike trainers. I will always remember exactly what these looked like and I very often find myself looking at the shoes of black men walking in our neighborhood. The man picked out some of the presents for himself and left the rest.
The kids schoolbags and tog bags were standing near the front door, ready for school the next day. These were picked up and turned upside down and the contents thrown on the floor. All our valuables were packed into the bags.
The men were in and out of various rooms and one went out the front door. A few minutes later he appeared with 2 women from one of our neighbors houses. They were told to sit with us. We are not the neighborly type I'm afraid so we did not know each other. The one woman was crying. The men kept threatening her and telling her to stop crying. My hubby was trying to console her but it did not help and she kept sobbing.
One of the men then went around and closed all the curtains in the house. Why would he be doing this now - my heart was pounding even heavier now. Were they going to kill us.........
Hubby was asked again where the safe and guns were. Again he explained we didn't have any.
We were asked for keys to get out and my keyring with house and car keys were handed over to them.
And then all of sudden they all just disappeared out the front door - as quickly and quietly as they had arrived.
Hubby went off to call the police. My priority was to make sure the kids were alright. None of us were harmed, physically anyway. It was now about 11.30pm and the whole ordeal lasted about 2 and a half hours.
Kids were put to bed. The police tuned up and we each gave a statement. The forensic unit appeared not long afterwards. No forensic evidence could be found as the men all wore gloves. A 24 hour locksmith was called in and the house was secured for the night - or what was left of it anyway as it was now around 3.30am.
I took the kids (no 3 & 4) to school the following morning. We all agreed that it would be best for them if we tried to follow our usual schedule. I went in to see the school principal and explained the whole ordeal just so they were aware of the situation and they could report back on any emotional issues that may come up whilst at school. The school councilor sat with them during the day. I was very impressed with the schools reaction to the whole situation and how they handled it. My sons were in very good care. I found a trauma councilor and I went to see her with son no 3 & 4 for he next few weeks. Hubby and son no 1 & 2 insisted they did not need any counselling.
There are no long term effects. We got through it unscathed. Sometimes I walk through my lounge and I look up and still see the reflection of the first man leaning against the doorway. I went through a phase where I just wanted to move and not be in this house anymore and sometimes I still want to move. But it seems that time does heal all wounds. The scars will always be there and I have learnt to accept that they will be there regardless of where I live.
It sometimes makes me hate the country I live in and would rather live anywhere else in the world. But then I remember that these things happen all over the world. I hate the fact the my son had a crappy 21st birthday and I think this is why not being with son 2 on his 21st hurts me so badly as well.
I would like nothing more than to see these men come to a very long drawn out painful death.
Ciao for now
(Originally posted 9 March 2013 on my blog)