The Herald (South Africa)
Farmer fights for life after burglary
A CATHCART stud farmer is fighting for his life after he walked in on a suspected gang of petty serial thieves inside the Cathcart Bowling Club.
Barry Armstrong, 77, had his skull badly fractured during the attack, which took place on Saturday night.
He had gone to carry out further repairs to the burglary-ravaged club.
He surprised a suspected youthful gang in the kitchen who pulverised his head with a gum pole and the heavy battery of his own cordless drill, his son, farmer Richard Armstrong, said.
Police spokeswoman Warrant Officer Namhla Mdleleni confirmed an attempted murder charge was added to two cases of burglary at the club last week.
Mdleleni said R4 000 of cutlery, bowling balls and tog bags were stolen.
The Armstrongs are offering a R10 000 reward for information leading to the arrest of the attackers.
The thieves had bent back burglar bars and entered through a small metal-framed kitchen window.
Richard, and his mother, Gill, were the first on the scene.
Richard said the club had been burgled on Thursday and Friday nights and his father, who lives across the road, had welded burglar bars to the kitchen windows. At 8.05pm on Saturday, Armstrong went over to the club for “five minutes” to finish off some work, but when he did not return, his wife called Richard, who “shot across” from the nearby golf club.
At about 8.25pm Richard saw his father lying in a pool of blood on the kitchen floor and broke in.
“I thought he was dead, then I heard him gurgling,” he said.
“I saw a thick wooden gum pole and his cordless drill both full of blood. All that is left of the drill is the shattered handle.”
Armstrong was taken to Cathcart Hospital and transferred to intensive care at Life Beacon Bay.
His two daughters, Cheryl Galloway and Karen Stirk, and their husbands joined Richard and Gill to keep vigil.
Richard said his father’s skull was “pretty fractured” although the rest of him was untouched.
“His brain is swollen and the neurosurgeon cannot say much until it goes down. His cheekbones are also fractured. They might catheterise his spinal cord.”
Richard and his father farmed sheep and cattle together for 20 years until his parents moved to town where Armstrong was a “very fit, healthy and active 77-year-old”.