Gang robs wheel­chair cou­ple in broad day­light

Weekend Post (South Africa) - - FRONT PAGE - Gareth Wil­son wilsong@ti­soblack­

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

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