“Thanks, we’re alive.”
These were the first words Schalk (63) and Lana (63) Coetzee said to each other after both were severely assaulted during a robbery on their farm near Reivilo in North West.
Schalk told himself for the first time on Wednesday about the death anxiety they encountered when three attackers attacked them on June 6.
He is still recovering from burns on his neck and back where the attackers tortured him with boiling water. Van Schalk’s ribs were also broken where they kicked him and he had to undergo surgery on his left wrist to repair nerve damage where the robbers tied him with wire. Lana is still in the Mediclinic Gariep in Kimberley, Northern Cape, where she underwent surgery to repair several bone fractures in her face and skull with plates. Her left eye, which had moved due to the assault, had to be moved back.
Lana’s right eardrum ruptured, she had concussions and small patches of bleeding on her brain. “Her mood is good, but she gets severe headaches,” says Schalk, who has already been discharged from the hospital and with his son and daughter-in-law, Schalk Jr. and Monique, in Potchefstroom.
“Doctors now have to do scans to make sure the bleeding on her brain clears up before she can be discharged. We are positive, we take it day by day. ”
Thembile Cornelius Plaatjie, 38, the only one of the suspected assailants arrested so far, appeared in Reivilo Magistrate’s Court on Wednesday. He is charged with, among other things, attempted murder, theft of a motor vehicle and home robbery.
Corné Heyns, spokesperson for Reivilo’s community safety unit, and other farmers were in court. “The case was postponed until Monday so that Plaatjie can get legal representation. We have drawn up a petition with 5,850 signatures that he should not be released on bail, partly because he is a danger to society and can influence the investigation process. ”
Heyns says they have received thousands of signatures in support of the petition from various racial groups and other countries, including the US, Canada and Australia.
Schalk said on Wednesday it was just a mercy that the armed robbers did not shoot him and Lana.
“When you see a revolver against your eyes, you think differently about life. I’m ready to go back to the farm, but I want to give Lana another chance. If I let the robbers change my life, they won. We still have so much to be thankful for. ”
Schalk said the robbers attacked him on the morning of the attack when he turned on a pump and went to his cattle’s cribs.
“They pulled my jersey over my head and tied my hands with my shoelaces. Then they pulled me into the field, tied my hands and feet with wire and wrapped me with a manger and stones. They said they were looking for money. “
Schalk told the robbers they could take all the cash in the house and his card. He gave them the PIN. “They didn’t believe me that there was money in the house already.”
The robbers later came to fetch him in the field and forced him back into the house.
There they beat him and threw boiling water on his neck and back. “They turned the whole house over and turned it into a vacuum cleaner and heater. Before they left the goods in our car (a Nissan X-Trail), they tied me back in the shower with wire. ”
Schalk never saw Lana during the attack and feared the worst. Meanwhile, she was unconscious elsewhere in the house after the robbers kicked her repeatedly. Lana later regained consciousness, loosened herself, and ran to the neighbors about a mile away for help.
“Her feet were full of thorns and she ran out of her jersey,” says Schalk.
“I don’t know how she looked with her swollen eyes.”
Piet Coetzee, Schalk’s brother, now keeps an eye on the farm where Schalk was born, until he returns soon.