Locked in the bathroom as four men, one armed with a gun, raided her home, Mary Chetty only thought of her 10-month-old grandson sleeping in the next room.
It was a normal Thursday morning for the farm owner and at 07:20, Chetty’s son had just left their farm in Old Wartburg Road to drop his wife at work and his daughter at school when there was a knock at the door.
“I was in the dining room when I heard the gardener calling me and knocking on the kitchen door.
“I couldn’t really see anything through the frosted glass on the kitchen door and when I opened it, this man just grabbed me and started shouting at me to take him to my bedroom.”
Chetty said three more men appeared and also began shouting at her, demanding she show them her bedroom and “take them to the money”. One man was holding a gun.
She said the men seemed to know that she kept money in a safe in her room and that was all they were “interested in”.
“I did not want to tell them anything. They then pushed me to the ground and started kicking me in the sides and stomach. One of the men stood on me but all I could think about was my grandson sleeping in his cot in the next room.
“At first I couldn’t believe there were men in my house wanting to rob me. I have lived here for 18 years and this is the first time we have had a robbery.
“I was absolutely terrified but not for me, for my grandson. He was all I cared about.”
Chetty said she believed the men had been lying in wait for her son to leave the property before they made their move and felt it might have been an “inside job”.
When Chetty would not take the men to her bedroom, they locked her in the bathroom and went to look for the safe themselves.
Meanwhile, Chetty’s domestic worker, Gugu Zondi, was busy sweeping the lounge on the other side of the house when she heard Chetty screaming.
Before Zondi came running to Chetty’s aid the four men walked into Chetty’s grandson’s room and began searching through cupboards and drawers while the baby slept.
Zondi said as she reached the room one man grabbed her by the collar of her dress and demanded she take them to Chetty’s room.
“They told me to show them where the safe was and when I said I didn’t know, they hit me over the head with their gun.”
Zondi said she eventually took the men to Chetty’s bedroom where they found and opened her safe using a key they had taken from Chetty’s handbag when they had first entered the house, and removed R14 500 before leaving.
“They stole both of my cellphones and R14 500 from my safe,” said Chetty.
Chetty’s son, Daryl Chetty, said he was in the Pietermaritzburg city centre when he received a call from the police to tell him his mother had been robbed.
“All I could think about was my mother and son. That was all I was worried about. I didn’t care about the money or anything.”
He said he rushed home and was relieved to find them both without any serious injuries.
KwaZulu-Natal Agricultural Union (KwaNalu) security desk head Koos Marais said he was most concerned to hear about the robbery.
“KwaNalu is most concerned to learn of the robbery and have called on SAPS previously to increase visible policing patrols especially after it was revealed to us that policing patrols were lacking in the area,” he said.
“We are extending an invitation to the Bishopstowe residents to contact KwaNalu or the police to report any suspicious behaviour they see in their area.
“We would also like to encourage people not to keep large sums of money on the property, especially if it is known publically that money exchanges hands on the farm or property.”
Pietermaritzburg police spokesperson Constable Mthokozisi Ngobese said no arrests have been made and the matter is still under investigation.