Retired doctor, 75, beaten and his houseguests robbed
We managed to close it, even lock it, but they beat on the door with the hammer
A RETIRED doctor and his houseguests endured a terrifying night-time robbery in his Port Alfred holiday home, in which he was viciously beaten with a hammer by assailants who wanted his heirloom Rolex watch.
Although the incident happened a month ago, no word of the attack got out until Dr Heyter Brandt, 75, contacted Talk of the Town by e-mail and the tenant of the cottage at his Hill Street premises, Johnny Scholtz, came to see TOTT last week.
Brandt, who lives in Pretoria, visits his holiday home in Hill Street, which he has owned for the past 20 years, about once every three to six months.
On this visit he had invited a dentist friend and his wife to stay at his house. Brandt’s wife and six-year-old son were also there.
Scholtz, who relayed the story first, said both couples had gone to bed at about 8pm in the upstairs bedrooms. Brandt gave his guests the master suite while he, his wife and child stayed in one of the other bedrooms.
“There were three robbers, and they got in through a downstairs window,” Scholtz said.
“They went to the main bedroom first and surprised the dentist and his wife in bed. They held a knife to the dentist’s throat and another one held a hammer. They said ‘keep quiet and we won’t hurt you’.” The robbers took an iPad, two cellphones, watches and a wallet containing about R5,000.
But Scholtz said the dentist’s wife was able to hide her rings and screamed.
Brandt took up the story from there. “After I heard the woman scream, I went out into the passage where they attacked me with a hammer. One had a big knife and cut my hand.”
He said he managed to get back inside the bedroom and he and his wife pushed the door back against the assailants. “We managed to close it, even lock it, but they beat on the door with the hammer.”
Brandt had brought his firearm with him, but forgot where he had put it and looked for it in desperation.
“They’re lucky I couldn’t find it,” he said.
The robbers broke the lock and came into the room. They demanded Brandt’s watch and in response he threw it under the bed.
The robbers assaulted him again. “The one with the hammer said, ‘Now I’m going to kill you’,” Brandt said.
“That’s when my wife said, ‘give him the watch’.” After they got the watch, the robbers fled, leaving the same way they had got in, through a downstairs window. Brandt set off the alarm and MultiSecurity responded, followed by the police.
Brandt described the ordeal as terrifying and said he had feared for the safety of his six-year-old child.
Brandt was the only one assaulted in the robbery, sustaining haematomas on his head, face and arm from being beaten with the hammer, and lacerations to his hand from the knife.
He said although the robbers wore balaclavas, he could tell from the portion of their faces visible and the few words spoken, that the one who attacked him with the hammer was coloured, and another assailant was black.
Brandt said his watch, an 18ct gold Rolex, would cost R385,000 to replace. He has offered a R10,000 reward for its recovery.
Police spokeswoman Captain Mali Govender confirmed the incident and said the items stolen included a Rolex Mariner 18ct gold watch, four iPhones, a Samsung A5 cellphone, wallets and cash to the value R8,650. Govender said no arrests had been made.
“It’s the second time we’ve been robbed in that house. About a year ago our houseguests’ luggage was stolen from the top floor while we were all downstairs in the kitchen,” he said.
After that incident he said he had told the police he suspected a painter who had painted the house just before they came down on holiday, but nothing had come of it.
“I’m so disappointed in Port Alfred. You expect this kind of thing to happen in Pretoria or Johannesburg, but not here,” Brandt said.
“Hill Street used to be a beautiful area, now there’s drug peddling going on at night and vagrants dumping rubbish in the bush.”
CRIME SCENE: The home of Dr Heyter Brandt in Hill Street, where robbers broke in at night and assaulted the retired doctor and robbed him and his houseguests
TERRIFYING ORDEAL: The bedroom door which the robbers broke open with a hammer to get to Dr Heyter Brandt and rob him of his gold Rolex watch