South Africa

Durban pensioner bites home invader

Durban pensioner bites home invader

Durban - Feisty pensioner Jenny Cooper, 72 fought off an attack by two intruders in Crestholme, outside Hillcrest, biting one intruder as he held her in a chokehold.

Cooper said she was in her cottage alone on the property of the Animal Rescue and Rehabilitation Centre, which is run by her daughter, Shelley Rawthorne, who was out at work at the time.

The attack happened early on Tuesday evening.

Cooper has knee problems which hamper her movement.

“I was just locking up for the evening when the dogs started barking. I opened the sliding door to check and I first saw a hand holding a knife. Then a face was right close to me,” she said.

Backing away, she quickly tried to shut the sliding door, but it caught the curtain. “The door didn’t close properly and he got his hand through. I was struggling to keep the door shut, but he overpowered me. He got his shoulder through the door and the next thing, he was inside.

“He pushed me against the wall and held me there with the knife in the other hand. I was screaming and he held my face to stop me. With his hand, he was squeezing my cheekbones and then he punched me under the chin.”

As he pushed her towards the bed, Cooper knew her alarm remote was on a table close by.

“He kept telling me to shut up and I told myself to relax. He moved his hand across my mouth, I couldn’t shut it, I couldn’t scream or shout. That’s when I bit down, his hand tasted filthy. With my other hand, I reached for the alarm. I prayed that I was pushing the right button and then the alarm started,” said Cooper.

As the alarm went off, her attacker released her.

In the meantime, a second intruder had snatched her cellphone, her bag and television, but her dog, Poppie, had caught him by the ankle.

“When the alarm went off, (the second intruder) panicked and dropped my bag as he tried to keep a grip on the television. As he tried to get out of the door, Poppie had grabbed him by the leg and had, at the very least, torn his trousers,” said Cooper.

The men fled with Cooper’s cellphone and television.

Her daughter said when the alarm went off, their security provider had contacted her.

“When I tried my mom’s number and no one answered, I knew something was wrong,” she said.

“My mouth was cut on the inside and my facial bones feel bruised. Everything is sore and I feel exhausted, I think it was the effort in fighting him off,” said Cooper.

The previous Friday night, Hawthorne saw a man by their garage.

“The dogs were going dilly and when I went to the back door and shouted, he came towards me with a knife. I slammed the door shut,” said Rawthorne.

The large property is an animal rehabilitation centre which homes rescued cats.

Rawthorne said over the past few weeks, they had had on-going problems with intruders on the property This included close to 30 lights being stolen in the cat run.

“I come home and it’s often dark when I have to feed the cats. Without the lights, it’s pitch black out there,” said Hawthorne, who suspects the intruders are sleeping in the cat shelter.

She also spotted two men lounging in chairs outside the gate at the end of her property when she and a security guard went around the perimeter of the property at about 2am this week.

On Friday, she said their electricity had gone out on Thursday night.

The men involved in all the incidents are described as being in their early twenties.

Richard Hipkin, chairperson of the area’s neighbourhood watch, said there had been a number of home invasions, with suspects believed to be either a syndicate coming into the area by car, or local “whoonga boys”.

“We work closely with police and local security companies.

“The last three incidents have involved car chases and we came very close to intercepting them. The local suspects also know the terrain very well and paths through the bushes.”

He also highlighted the severe lack of police resources, with Hillcrest Police Station serving a huge area.

This includes not only Hillcrest but also Waterfall, Forest View, Gillitts and Crestholme.

Police spokesperson Lieutenant-­Colonel Thulani Zwane confirmed the incident, saying a case of robbery had been opened and was under investigation.

Independent on Saturday