A 56-year old man valiantly defended his elderly parents during a terrifying home invasion on Monday morning at their family home outside Tarentaalrand. Ian Woodley (56) and his mother, Suzanne (79) had been up late, lounging in the living room. At around 01:30 that morning they retired to their bedrooms.
“I had just switched off my light and climbed into bed when I was startled by an immense crash coming from the living room side of the house. I heard glass shatter as it hit the floor and I knew that we were being attacked,” recalled Ian. “I grabbed my phone and dialled for help, I couldn’t get through and so I ran to the kitchen to arm myself and prepared for the worst.”
In the meantime, Suzanne, who had also been startled by the loud bang had climbed out of bed to investigate. Initially she thought it may have been her son who had dropped something in the kitchen. “I took my phone and peered out of my bedroom door. That’s when Ian came up to me and said there is trouble, we had better get to the bathroom.”
Ian woke his father, Sonny (89) and rushed the pair to the bathroom before approaching the lounge, armed with a kitchen knife and a machete from the pantry. As he entered the narrow passageway leading to the front of the house he heard a window in one of the bedrooms shattering. Then another window on the opposite end of the house and still a third window was smashed in one of the guest bedrooms - intruders were entering the house from all sides simultaneously.
“Chaos rained down around us as windows started shattering all around the house. I could hear the rocks hit the floor inside the rooms and I heard the guys running outside the house. The first guy who broke the window in the lounge was busy removing the smaller bits of glass from the frame in order to climb through, when I ran at him and screamed for him to get out. He was armed with a machete and knobkerrie but he backed off briefly. I could see he was surprised.”
At the same time a second intruder was climbing through the window in one of the rooms closest to the bathroom where his parents were hiding. Ian turned and ran to the room and chased the second assailant back through the window. The first intruder seized the opportunity and climbed through the window into the lounge. He started towards the bathroom but was confronted by a knife wielding Ian in the passage way.
“The guy looked at me for a few seconds and then grabbed one of our bookshelves and tried to ram me with it. It was too heavy for him to move, but I thought to myself this was a clever idea and so I toppled the bookshelf over. It wedged in between the walls of the narrow passage and acted as a barrier separating him from me.”
The bookshelf was too broad for the intruder to jump over and the backing board too slippery from him to climb onto and risk receiving a blow from Ian.
“Suddenly he started hurtling ornaments and ashtrays and basically anything he could find at me. He grabbed the bricks from one of our other makeshift bookshelves in the lounge and threw those at my head. When he ran out of ammo, he started breaking chairs and coffee tables and throwing the pieces at me. The guy went berserk!”
By this time Ian had been running between the passage and the two bedrooms fending off attacks coming at him from three sides simultaneously. Between dodging missiles from the front and assailants at his flanks, Ian sustained a number of cuts to his arms, hands and face. Suzanne had managed to contact the Letsitele Neighbourhood watch and a number of friends who all sounded the alarm.
“We shouted at the guys that the police on their way, but they seemed little phased by this and the attacks persisted. It was only when they saw the lights of the neighbourhood watch vehicles that they immediately jumped out through the windows and ran off.”
According to the Woodley’s, the entire attack lasted no more than 20 minutes. Suzanne recalled that the neighbourhood watch men arrived at their home in less than 13 minutes after she made the call. The three intruders fled into the bushes and a search was immediately conducted ,but they managed to escape.
Ian was treated in hospital for his wounds but was back home that same evening. The motive for the attack is not clear and though one can only speculate, it would appear, as in the case of Ben Pretorius at Mapietskop, that these attacks could more likely be acts of intimidation rather than house robbery.
The intruders in the last attack were young men which the Woodley’s guess to be in their twenties judging by their voices. Their faces were covered by balaclavas or masks and were rather brazen in their actions.
This was the fourth time in the last 28 years that this family suffered an attack on their home. They recalled the first attack having occurred roughly four or five years after they moved into the house. July 2017 was the second attack. This time the intruders entered the farmstead in broad daylight at 09:45 and tied up both Ian and Sonny before dragging Suzanne into the house where they assaulted and bound her. In this instance a shotgun and three cell phones were stolen before they fled.
The third attack on the Woodley’s occurred at the start of this year when a group of intruders invaded their home in January. In this instance Ian was assaulted as he tried to defend his parents. Nothing was stolen.
What is shocking is that in all the cases above, no arrests have yet been made and no feedback has been given to the victims on the progress of the investigations. The Woodley’s were attacked four times and Ben Pretorius’ farm at Mapietskop suffered eight robberies in the space of just six months and yet there are no arrests and no further information.
In contrast, three doctors were assaulted and wounded at their residences on the grounds of the Letaba Hospital and the very next day a high-powered delegation which included the Minister of Police and the Minister of Health accompanied by an SABC camera crew travel to the hospital to investigate the scene.
A reward is offered for information which could lead to the arrest of the suspects and the crime is labelled an atrocity. What about the Woodley’s and others like the Pretorius’ or the Westley’s or the Wilson’s and the Nel’s? What about the countless others Minister Bheke Cele?
Photo’s: Joe Dreyer