GEORGE NEWS - For Charmaine Engelbrecht, it was a nightmare when two men wearing balaclavas walked into her shop brandishing a firearm. She will never forget the events on Sunday 1 July, although the whole incident was over within a few minutes. She was alone in Merriman Café in Merriman Street, George at 09:40 when the thieves walked in. After she raised the alarm, members of the public gave chase.
The likeable mother of three said she turned cold when she realised their intention and immediately reached for her panic button. "The robber pointing the gun at me became aggressive and said he would kill me if I touched the panic button again. He spoke English. I reacted instinctively by throwing the panic button into a nearby shelf so that he could not get to it," said Engelbrecht, who looked calm and collected on Monday as she related the incident.
Cool and collected
"The police complimented me for keeping a cool head. In fact, the officer who came to take my statement said, 'I want to shake your hand'. But it was terrifying when he (the thief) threatened to shoot me. They emptied out the cash register and took my Samsung Galaxy. For the past two days, concerned family and friends had difficulty reaching me. After the robbers fled I ran into the street screaming for help and I spotted the thieves running towards the railway track." Engelbrecht expressed heartfelt thanks to the lady who allowed her to use her cellphone to phone her husband.
Several passers-by responded to her calls for help and the occupants of a car went in hot pursuit. The robbers ran in the direction of the old George train station, where several people waiting for the Intercape bus gave chase.
The culprits were last seen disappearing in the direction of Thembalethu.
Security company officials who had also responded, came up empty-handed. Their CCV-TV footage revealed that the robbers had pulled down their masks before entering the shop. Only their clothes were clearly discernible. After the incident, social media was abuzz with people speculating as to what had happened.
Constable Rachel Hendriks of the George police requested the public to come forward with any information about Sunday's incident and phoning it through to the investigating officer, Sergeant John Boesak, on 044 803 4764 or 072 942 0042.
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