Lindhaven family fall victim to arson attack

firework_news_22878_7313A family in Lindhaven, Johannesburg, has been left destitute after people torched the home they have lived in for more than 20 years.

“They burnt my house and killed my dogs and torched my car, all because of something they assumed happened,” the woman, who did not want to be named out of fear, told Sapa on Wednesday.

“We had nothing to do with anything. Why would we do something like this?” she asked sobbing.

A crowd from a squatter camp near the family’s home, which is near Princess Crossing and Westgate, burned down the house because they believed the woman’s husband had killed someone in the area.

Earlier, police spokesman Lieutenant Kay Makhubela said a man who lived in the squatter camp was shot dead on Friday. His body was found on Saturday. The group had accused the woman’s husband of his death.

“My husband has never owned a gun,” the woman said.

She said she arrived at her house in the suburb at 6.15pm on Tuesday to find a group of people gathered at the edge of the property.

“I stopped my car and asked what was going on. They started getting riled up with me and a cop had to escort me to my car.”

The woman said a crowd of about 300 people started shaking the fence around their property.

“I phoned the cops, I phoned the flying squad… I had seven people calling the cops and the flying squad [for us]. They didn’t respond.”

Eventually the woman said she got her daughter-in-law, granddaughter, husband, and domestic worker into her car and managed to get off the property.

She locked her three dogs in the house thinking the crowd would not be able to get in.

At 9.30pm the woman’s husband returned to the property and found the crowd had broken through the wall.

Again the woman phoned the flying squad to tell them they were trying to burn down the house. She had the phone put down on her.

She told her husband to leave because it was too dangerous.

“At about 10.10pm the neighbours… called and said ‘they are burning your house down’.”

The family rushed back to the house where they found the fire brigade and police on the scene. Two of the dogs locked in the house were burnt to death. The third dog was rushed to the vet where he was on a drip.

“We’ve lived there for 27 years without an incident,” she said.

The police assured the family they would stay on the property through the night.

“At 9am [Wednesday] we went back to the house to see what we could salvage… our whole life is there.”

The woman said when they arrived on the property police were there. They asked her husband if he owned a gun to which he said no. Police took their identification numbers and left.

“The cops left us there. Five minutes later the mob arrived again.”

She said the family had to rush off the property again and returned with security guards later.

The family was staying with relatives and friends for the time being.

“I’m going to go buy some clothes and shoes and my husband some socks and then go back to work,” she said.


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