Gang robs wheelchair couple in broad daylight
A DISABLED couple who regularly ride around Summerstrand and the beachfront in their motorised wheelchairs have been robbed by a gang of three outside their flat.
Johan Steyn, 47, and his life partner Susan Henning, 46 – both wheelchair-bound – were ambushed by two women and a man in broad daylight at the Cape Recife High School at 5.30pm on Wednesday.
Steyn and Henning work at Nelson Mandela University and live in a flat on the school grounds – across the road from the campus.
Police have asked anyone who recognises the three suspects from CCTV footage to come forward.
Steyn yesterday explained that his daily routine was to fetch Henning – who eats supper at the Summerstrand Cheshire Home – before they both went back to their flat. The school’s University Way entrance and the Cheshire Home in Gomery Avenue are less than 400m apart.
“Before I left to fetch her [Henning], I drew money at an ATM on campus. I doubt that they [the robbers] were watching me at that point as I still looked around and saw no one,” Steyn said.
“I then went to Cheshire Home and we both went back to the flat.”
Steyn said the flat was close to the school’s tennis courts, where children were playing tennis at the time.
“We went past the tennis court and I saw the three sitting on a bench at the courts. I assumed they were with the group of children playing tennis,” Steyn said.
“We then went into our flat yard and as Susan opened the door, I saw her facial expression change. At that stage I was halfway up the [wheelchair] ramp. Before I could ask her what was wrong, there was a gun next to my head.
“One woman grabbed Susan’s cellphone and the other my cellphone. I held onto my bag and then the woman said they would shoot me.”
Steyn said he had handed the bag over out of fear they would be shot.
“Susan started shouting for help. The man then dropped the gun and I saw that it was a toy gun.
“In the chaos, he put his hands over Susan’s mouth to try to shut her up.
“They tried to push us inside the house but because the wheelchairs were in gear, they did not move. I also screamed, trying to alert people that we were being robbed. They must have panicked because of all the noise we were making and decided to run off.”
University students who were staying at the nearby school hostel heard the commotion and came outside to investigate.
“By that stage I was chasing after them and shouting. The students came out of the hostel and a rugby player was on the nearby field practising,” Steyn said. “He then also ran over to help.
“Two of them ran away but we managed to corner the one woman.
“We had her cornered at the entry gate and were asking her what she was doing. She claimed to have come to get a USB stick from me with information.”
But while the suspect was cornered, an incoming car opened the gate and the woman took the gap and fled.
“The next thing she just ran off and before we could grab her she jumped into a taxi that was parked right there.”
CCTV footage of the alleged attackers was obtained from one of the perimeter cameras.
School principal Jacques Hugo said he suspected the gang had been watching the couple for a while.
“The footage shows that the man and two women managed to sneak onto the premises at about 5.15pm. A car came into the grounds and they sneaked in before the gate closed.
“We suspect that they then waited for [Henning and Steyn] as they knew their routine,” he said.
Police spokeswoman Colonel Priscilla Naidu said a robbery was under investigation.
Anyone who may know or recognise the people in the CCTV footage can contact Detective Sergeant Constance Brooks on 082-442-1354.
HELP NEEDED: Police are looking for assistance from anyone able to identify the people in this CCTV footage