13 August 2018 Read: 511
Brian Westley (64) says the Lord was standing next to him and that is why he survived a hammer attack. Almost 18 months after the horrific attack which left him in a coma for three days, Brian retold his ordeal and offered a look at life after a farm attack.
On the 10th of February 2017 Brian was awoken by a noise on his veranda at Plot 42 California, just outside Letsitele. It was a smidgen before 07:00 that morning. He went to investigate and opened the door. Three days later he found himself in a bed with a drip and a ventilator, dressed in nothing but a hospital gown. A nurse told him to relax as the doctor would come and see him shortly to move him off to the general ward.
“I was dumbstruck. What ward? What doctor and what were all these pipes coming out of me for? Was I still asleep and dreaming” Brian had no recollection of where he was or how he had arrived there. What he did know, was that he was in pain and disorientated.
The front pages read that week that he had been assaulted and robbed by suspects who had gained access to his home through the front door. They had hit him over the head with a hammer as he opened the door, tied him up with his own clothes which they took from his cupboard, ransacked the property and left him in a pool of his own blood on the floor of his lounge.
The suspects took keys to the main house on the property, removed a safe from the house and cracked it open outside in the yard. They fled with its contents which included a shotgun, a .303 hunting rifle, a revolver and jewellery worth an undisclosed value.
A worker later found the unconscious Westley and called emergency services. He was rushed to Letaba Hospital where he remained in a coma for three days. After he was stabilized he was moved to the general men’s ward where he remained for five more days before returning home.
“I was staying on Giel van der Schyff’s property. He had left for Pretoria on business and entrusted me with the keys to his home and the rest of the property. I was looking after the place for him, you know, the general stuff like sorting out the milk containers and just keeping an eye on things until he returned. Only the staff knew that Giel was away and that I had the keys. This does raise some suspicion for me, because my attackers knew exactly where I was and where everything else was.”
According to Brian, the police did come and take his statement, but he has since heard nothing from them again. At the time of the incident the police investigative unit fine combed the scene and launched a search for three suspects.
The SAPS confirmed the incident and a case of Negligent Handling of Firearm against the owner of the property was being investigated. This was allegedly because the safe containing the firearms was not fixed to the wall as per legislation at the time of the robbery. Information was made available then, that the safe was removed from the wall during construction on the premises at the time.
“I’m not sure of any of that information other than what Giel told me. What I do know is that no police officer has ever contacted me about the incident again,” said Brian. “I would also like to tell people that the stories about me being mistreated in hospital are absolutely not true at all. I was treated with respect by the nurses and the doctors. The food was hardly edible, but the staff were great.”
Brian said that he doesn’t suddenly feel any different towards society after the attack either. “It’s not like I’m walking around hating black people now. In fact I don’t hate anybody, we have become so desensitized to crime in our country that we take it as a part of life really. It has nothing to do with a specific race to me. You get your bad bunch in every ethnic group and let me tell you, among my own people I have seen the same, if not worse behaviour.”
According to him, the only major change that occurred is that he is now a lot less lax when it comes to security and being aware of his surroundings. For the first three months after the attack he would wake up at the slightest noise outside his window and he admits that he still experiences a little bit of paranoia at times.
“But I feel that people should understand that these things can happen to anyone at any time and that when it does, life does not end for you right there. If you are lucky to have survived an attack like mine, you have a lot more to be thankful for than most people. You should embrace that and use it as a motivator to carry on and make the best of the rest of your life. You should know that it was not your time to go, and there has to be a reason for that.”
Five months after the attack at California 42, neighbours of Brian’s were also attacked. The Woodleys suffered a similar fate on the 18th of July that year. Mr and Mrs Woodley and their son, Ian, were in the house at the time. All three of them survived. During the attack the suspects stole their cellphones and a shotgun and fled.
“I know the Woodley’s personally, they are close friends of mine. I wonder whether these suspects were not the same guys who attacked me. We will probably not find out soon, all I can say is that we are all very grateful to be alive.”
Bulletin will endeavour to make contact with the Woodley’s for a follow up on their horrific encounter for a next edition. At the time of going to print we could not reach the police for comment.