The Herald (South Africa)

Farmer fights for life after bur­glary

- Mike Loewe Crime · Incidents · Richard Armstrong

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”.

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