A family celebrating their son’s 10th birthday on Sunday night could have been shot if they had left a restaurant five seconds earlier.
Bullets fired by an off-duty security guard, killed a suspected gang leader who had attacked a Spur restaurant in a shopping center in Centurion.
Just behind the gang, the Roets family had paid for their food and were making their way to the exit of the restaurant when the incident unfolded happened.
According to police spokesman Col Dimakatso Sello, four men tried to rob the restaurant. One approached the manager and at gunpoint ordered him to proceed to the office with no suspicious behavior.
Sello said the security guard noticed this and reacted quickly, fatally shooting the suspect while the others three fled the scene.
Patron Ernst Roets, deputy managing director of AfriForum, said the events only became known after the incident. He was at the restaurant with his wife, brother and sister-in-law and four children aged 10, 7, 6 and 2. His eldest was celebrating his birthday and they had decided to go to the ice cream restaurant.
They left just after 6pm.
“It was spontaneous,” Roets said. “We had partied in the morning and then [in the evening] decided to go to Spur Ice.
“I had paid and walked out the door with my eldest and youngest sons. My wife was with the other two children.
“The shooting was right in front of us. The guy was killed and thrown to the ground right next to us. I ducked and put the kids under a table – it was so quick.
“The first few shots killed the robber. It took a second to figure out what had happened. At first it sounded like something large had fallen with a bang, other than a gun, then we were told to come down.”
He said the incident happened can play in a variety of ways.
“If we had gotten up five seconds earlier, we would have been at the point wherethe shooting started. It was traumatic.”
He said in the chaos he thought his wife was right behind him, but she was actually at the top of the restaurant steps after walking back, to check for her two middle children.
“She saw that there was no one up there and came down when someone said ‘duck.’ She couldn’t see me or the children, she just heard someone die.”
The boys, aged seven and six, were playing outside and when the riot started , They ran towards their parents instead of ducking to safety.
“It was shocking for the kids, but shocking for everyone – no one should have to go through this.”< /span >
Roets believes the guard handled the scenario “perfectly”.
“As far as I know and understand, he saved our lives. The first shots killed the leader, who was holding a gun. I have no qualms about his actions. He shot and yelled for us to go down.
“Then there was a shootout outside the restaurant – it sounded like someone had emptied a cartridge. These guys were there to rob but ready to kill.”
Private security firms called to the scene arrived quickly thereafter.
Roets said the restaurant called to make sure the family was okay and he felt they handled the situation well.
“I have the kids today consciously brought to school. Our friend is a psychologist and she and others were waiting for us when we got home last night to support us. The children had trauma counseling.
“My son had a test at school today so we spoke to the school to let us know if he needed to come home.”
Roets said he contacted the guard who fired the fatal shot at the suspected robber. He has offered to assist him with legal counsel if needed.
According to Sello, the suspect who was mortally wounded was carrying a gun with a discarded serial number.
< p>Emer-G-Med said , his paramedics were on the scene around 6:30pm and found a male, approximately 30 years old, with fatal injuries.
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