Play dead, live another day – 89-year Sedgefield woman after attack

An 89-year-old Sedgefield woman is in good spirits and well on her way to recovery only days after she was violently attacked and robbed at her home last week.

A sprightly Janet Rendell, who lives in the Groenvlei area with her husband Tony, this week relayed the scene that played itself out on 5 December, which could have ended very differently had it not been for her quick thinking that resulted in her female attacker leaving her for dead after trying to strangle her.

It happened, Rendell says, just after her husband left to go to a computer shop shortly before 14:00 that afternoon.

“I stayed at home as I wanted to make a call,” she recalls.

Rendell says that as she reached for the phone on the kitchen counter this woman appeared next to her, as though from thin air.

“I didn’t even see her come in… She grabbed the phone out of my hand and unplugged it from the wall.

For a moment I thought she was from the computer shop, sent by my husband, or maybe someone from Telkom as we had been experiencing problems with our line,” she says.

At this moment Rendell’s attacker turned around and “shot for my handbags on the chair behind us”.

Not ‘a single word’ uttered
“I said to her, ‘What on earth are you doing in this house?’, but she didn’t say a single word.

:She didn’t say anything at all the entire time she was in my house,” says Rendell.

The woman then continued to ransack her two handbags, which had already been opened, giving Rendell the impression that she might have been in the house for a while before approaching her.

“As I reached to grab the money, this woman went straight for my neck. She squeezed harder and harder and started backing me up toward the front door.

“I could hardly breathe and my legs started giving way. At this point I had almost collapsed onto the rug near my front door,” says Rendell.

It was at that moment, she says, that her “quick thinking” kicked in.

“I was looking up at her from the floor as she squeezed tighter and tighter.

“I tried saying, ‘No!’ but couldn’t get the words out, and thought she was going to kill me for sure.
“What would you do in that situation? I just went limp, dropped my head to one side and let my mouth hang open a bit – I pretended to be dead.

“I even used a breathing exercise I learned years ago to try and make it seem as though I stopped breathing.”
At this point, Rendel recalls, the attacker let go of her neck and proceeded to drag her by the arms along the floor into a nearby bathroom.

“And there I stayed on the floor, listening carefully until I couldn’t hear her anymore. I got up without a sound and quietly walked to the kitchen.”

Rendell says that the entire incident probably lasted about 10 minutes.

Soon after, according to Rendell, her husband came home and he asked a friend nearby to call the police.
“And I must say, the police have been wonderful throughout,” she says.

Despite some bruising on her rib cage, her one arm and her neck, Rendell seemed as fit as a fiddle during Knysna-Plett Herald’s visit.

“I grew up during the Second World War, so I’ve been through worse. I still made it to my hairdresser appointment the next day,” she states matter of factly.

“Besides, sitting around feeling sorry for yourself wouldn’t do any good…”

Rendell is, however, sorry about the jewellery that the woman managed to steal along with the money.

“I’m extremely sad about the rings as they were supposed to go to the grandchildren,” she says.
Knysna police spokesperson Sergeant Chris Spies has confirmed the incident and says the local detective branch is investigating a case of house robbery.

“No arrest has been made yet and investigation into this matter continues,” he says.

By: Knysna-Plettherald

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