On Wednesday evening my Mum and I returned home after I had a rehearsal for Les Mis: The Concert at Reps Theatre. We did our usual look out for anyone on the street as we turned into our drive way, but saw no one. I got out to open the gate and get the dogs inside and had just got inside the gate when to my horror I saw a man approaching my Mum’s driver’s window of the car in the dark. As he saw me he pulled out a gun and I heard the click of it loading. I have never been as terrified in my life. Our dogs started barking and another three men appeared and surrounded my Mum in the car.
The man with the gun demanded we give him money. I told him I didn’t have any and my Mum wound her window up. One of the other men then came to my Mum’s window and with bolt cutters proceeded to smash the window in on her. They then demanded my Mum give them the keys of the car and my bag which stupidly was on the floor of the car. I was filled with consternation when my Mum started arguing and refused to hand over the keys and my bag. I called out to try tell her to just cooperate but it was no good. The men started trying to pull my Mum out the car through the window and in the process hurt her arm and nearly broke it. My Mum, in what turned out to be a clever move, threw the car keys through the gate into the garden. I started screaming and this caused the thieves to panic and they ran off with my bag into the vlei opposite our garden.
Both our next door neighbours responded to my screams. The one called neighbourhood watch and the other pressed their panic button to call the security company Safeguard, who luckily have a vehicle stationed just round the corner from us. Safeguard arrived first but were not that helpful as we are not their clients and had not called them. It was reassuring that neighbourhood watch arrived next hot on their heels and they took control of the situation. We then had a whole squadron of police from Milton Park Police Station. First police with dogs to track the robbers across the vlei, then sergeants to take our statements, next the homicide unit even though it wasn’t a murder and finally detectives who started the whole statement process all over again. At one point we had a dozen policemen crowded into our kitchen and it took over three hours to go over it all.
This is a warning to Harare residents to be vigilant and security conscious as times are tough and people are desperate. Always be aware of your surroundings when entering your property and try to enter as quickly as possible. Have emergency numbers on hand and don’t leave valuables on display in your car. Be a member of your local neighbourhood watch and be in contact with your neighbours. Report any suspicious characters to the police.