An elderly woman was threatened with decapitation by robbers brandishing a sword and a disabled man in a wheelchair was stabbed to death in a home invasion the day before, in separate incidents in Port Elizabeth at the weekend.
Retired florist Diane Rottler, 88, and her son, Michael Thysse, 64, who were attacked in their Martin Street, Charlo, home in the early hours of Saturday, said later: “We are lucky to be alive.”
Thysse, a retired builder and handyman, had moved into the house just three weeks ago to take care of his mother after she was burgled on Christmas Day.
“My mother walked into the kitchen on Christmas Day and found two youngsters inside the house.
“She confronted them and they just walked off,” he said.
“After that, I decided to move in to make sure she was fine.
“I changed the locks and so on. I suspect that this was when they scouted the house out and saw where everything was.
“I assume they told the older guys, who then came up with this plan.”
Thysse said that in the incident on Saturday he had been woken up at about 1am by his mother’s screams for help.
“I first thought that she had fallen and needed help.
“It turns out that she got up after hearing the dog barking and saw the garage door standing open in the backyard, after looking through the kitchen window.
“Obviously wanting to see what was happening, she opened the door.
“Three men were waiting and basically ambushed her,” he said.
“They grabbed her by the throat and pushed her into the house at knifepoint.”
Thysse said he had jumped out of bed when he heard Rottler screaming.
“I did not think we were being robbed. I thought she had fallen.
“As I opened my bedroom door, there was a guy in the passage.
“He started to lunge at my head with a knife,” he said.
“I managed to fend him off and then told him to take what he wanted.
“This was when he grabbed my shirt and pulled me to the kitchen.”
Thysse said when they got to the kitchen he saw the other two men throttling his mother and demanding money.
“I told them to leave her and take what they wanted.
“They kept asking for money and the safe.
“One man then tried to bite her finger off [to get to her diamond ring], but could not get it [the ring] off.
“The other man then pulled a sword out of a bag.
“I was pushed into the bed
room and told to give them the money,” he said.
“The next thing they ushered my mom into the bedroom as well and put the sword against her neck as if they were going to decapitate her.
“As he [the robber] pulled the sword back to take a swing at her head, I told him to stop and to take what they want.”
The robbers bound the mother and son’s hands with electrical cables they had ripped from the television and then ransacked the house.
“They took all the jewellery and all my clothes. Everything was put into our car and they left,” Thysse said.
The grey Chevy Spark was found abandoned hours later near Prospect Road in Walmer
A traumatised Rottler said from her bed that she had barely left her bedroom since the attack.
“We are lucky to be alive. God was with us the whole time.
“They could have killed us, God is good and protected us,” she said.
Asked how she was coping,
Rottler said she was in pain from being manhandled.
“I feel very sore all over. I have cuts and bruises everywhere from them pushing me around.”
Just a few hours earlier, amputee Mark Mullen, 66, was found stabbed to death on the lounge floor of his home in Arlington Street, Kunene Park.
His body was discovered by his wife.
Police spokesperson Colonel Priscilla Naidu said Mullen’s wife had made the gruesome find when she arrived home at about 4.40pm on Friday. He had been stabbed multiple times.
“Entrance into the house was possibly gained through the lounge window, with the suspects then fleeing out the back door.”
She said that the only visible item missing was a Samsung television.
No-one was at the house on Sunday, but neighbours said the couple were quiet and kept largely to themselves.
Police are investigating cases of murder and house robbery related to the two incidents.