An elderly Gamtoos woman was savagely beaten and admitted to hospital yesterday after a house robbery near the river mouth. Wilma van Rooyen, 66, was beaten with a pipe by four men who entered her log cabin in Mauritzkraal near the river slipway – close to the Gamtoos Mouth Resort – at about 9 am.
The incident has sent shock waves through the community, with residents suspecting it could be the same culprits who – carrying a panga – attacked another homeowner last week.
Yesterday, Van Rooyen was rescued by a couple who spotted her running in the road to get help.
Gamtoos resident Wilna Nice and her husband were driving towards the R102 when they spotted a bloodied Van Rooyen.
“We were actually very frightened. She was running down the road screaming, with her arms in the air.
“Her entire face was covered in blood. It was so bad you could barely see her face,” Nice said.
“When we realised she needed help, we stopped. She was crying and very much in shock.”
Nice said they alerted Smhart Security and called an ambulance.
“It was very chaotic. She told us that she was doing the washing and was about to walk outside when four men ran into the house.
“They tied her hands and feet together so she could not run away.
“She said they beat her with a pole and the one robber wanted to shoot her. He kept telling the others that they must just kill her.”
Nice said the men had fled in a dark vehicle, with a fifth man believed to be driving the getaway car.
Smhart Security owner Carl Trahms said his team had arrived soon after getting the call.
“One thing is clear – she was savagely beaten, covered in blood and very lucky to be alive,” he said.
Former Gamtoos neighbourhood watch head Cal Seton-Smith, who was second to arrive at the scene, said Van Rooyen had been badly assaulted.
“I was on my way to Port Elizabeth when I also stumbled onto the incident,” he said.
“She looked terrible. The whole side of her head was bloody.”
Seton-Smith said the attack had happened outside the gated boundary of the resort – about a kilometre away.
“It is a fairly isolated house where this happened so it is clear that this was not really opportunistic.”
Seton-Smith said residents in the area were more angry than scared. “We are a quiet community and everyone knows each other.
“An attack like this is obviously much spoken about,” he said.
Police spokesman Sergeant Majola Nkohli said the attack had happened between 8.30am and 9 am.
“She [Van Rooyen] was taken to St George’s Hospital in Port Elizabeth due to the extent of her injuries.
“At this stage detectives still need to interview her, but she is receiving medical treatment.
“I can confirm that it appears her revolver was stolen during the attack. It remains unclear at this stage how they got the firearm and if she had it on her during the attack.”
Nkohli said detectives were still investigating if the attack was connected to last week’s house robbery.
By late afternoon, police forensics were on the scene gathering evidence.