Call to be vigilant

Regine Josephy-Stelzmann.

As the festive season draws ever closer, the Hout Bay community policing forum has warned homeowners to be more vigilant in securing their premises.

CPF chairperson Anthony Chemaly said the season invariably brought more criminal activity, including incidences of house robbery.

“We see gangs of guys who have been released from jail coming into Hout Bay. They then target homes, particularly as we come into the season,” Mr Chemaly said.

“These guys are brazen and sometimes even post pictures of their loot on Facebook. Residents will need to be more aware of their surroundings.”

With more tourists coming into Hout Bay, Mr Chemaly advised guesthouse owners to educate their guests about being vigilant, particularly when going out at night or leaving their belongings unattended.

Recently, the residential areas off Empire Avenue that are heavy with reeds have become prime targets for criminals.

On Saturday November 3, local author Regine Josephy-Stelzmann, 76, was attacked while entering her Milner Road home at about 8.30pm.

“Both my garage door and gate are automatic.

“I opened the gate and drove into my garage. But this man must have seen I was entering my property and managed to get in before I could close the gate,” Ms Josephy-Stelzmann said.

“He immediately leaped on me. The man was very slim, and I estimated that he was between 20 and 30 years old.

“He was carrying a large knife, which he held against my throat. I immediately started shouting for my tenants, but he warned me he could cut me if I carried on shouting.”

She said the man ordered her to hand over money and her cellphone, “an old cheap model Nokia”.

“I handed over money I had in my purse and the cellphone. He then dragged me onto the ramp leading up the garage and demanded I open my car boot. I told him all I had in there were groceries, but he demanded I hand over my computer, which I didn’t have.

“At that point, I told him that I was an old woman and asked him why he would want to hurt somebody like me. All he said was, ‘I know you are (old)’. I then had the idea to tell him that the ancestors would not want him to hurt me.”

Ms Josephy-Stelzmann was wearing a valuable chain around her neck, but was surprised that her assailant showed no interest in taking it.

“He then told me to open the gate, and he ran away. Once he had gone I felt dazed, but went to knock on the door of my tenants, but they weren’t there. They were in the village at the time.”

She reported the attack to Hout Bay police the following day.

Ms Josephy-Stelzmann said in the 16 years she had lived in Milner Road, she had had 15 break-ins but never before had she been physically attacked in this way.

She was aware that others living near the wetlands had endured a number of house robberies in recent times.

“Most homes were heavily secured already, but it was clear that criminals were lying in wait to prey on unsuspecting homeowners, she said.