Union leader Zwelinzima Vavi believes he could have been killed had he arrived at his wife Noluthando’s business premises in the middle of a robbery.
Vavi said when he received a call from his wife on Friday evening informing him that robbers had pounced on her business – an eight-bedroom bed and breakfast in Johannesburg – he wrongly assumed she meant their house.
He believe this confusion probably saved his life and that of his protector, with whom he was.
The general-secretary of the South African Federation of Trade Unions (Saftu) took to social media where he shared his story on Facebook and Twitter, saying on the latter: “Almost became part of the stats”.
My wife her stuff and even myself had a narrow escape at the hands of a gang of 8 armed “thugs” two nights ago in her business premises! Almost became part of the stats! That harrowing experience left everyone in desperate need for counseling! That’s life unfortunately
— Zwelinzima Vavi (@Zwelinzima1) May 12, 2019
He said going to the wrong place after a call from his wife saved him.
“In a panic I didn’t ask questions as I assumed she was at home. I was about five minutes away from home when she called,” Vavi wrote on Facebook.
“So with my single protector we drove straight home, flying, only to find out that she was calling from her business offices which we passed as we were flying home. Thanks goodness that we drove past the place.
“These guys were about eight and all with firearms. Had we driven there first, both me and the protector would probably have died.”
Vavi said the gang of robbers had just left by the time he arrived at the scene but they did not leave empty handed.
“They looted televisions, refrigerators, cellphones, guest clothes, laptops, etc. They had tied up everyone and beat up the two security… It was just hectic,” he said.
The former Cosatu general secretary said his wife, although she was on the premises, never came face-to-face with the robbers.
He said she had locked herself in her office when she realised what was happening and “that’s when these guys panicked and took everything already in an Audi and a mini bus and drove off”.
Vavi said the incident was a “reminder that we live in a country at war with itself”.
He added: “We all live in fear and we are all prisoners. That’s our country 25 years into its democracy”.
Police spokesperson Kay Makhubela confirmed the incident at Classic Grace Boutique Hotel, saying the receptionist was at work when security knocked on her door announcing that two guests had arrived.
When she went outside to meet them, one of them produced a firearm threatening her and two security officers.
“They told them to lie down, tied them (up) with cable ties and asked for the manager. They took their cellphones including one from a guest.”
He said they ransacked the hotel and took five plasma TV’s and other items before fleeing.
“They wore balaclavas and were aged around 25-30 years old driving an Audi A4 and a combi.”
He said one security officer was injured after he was pistol-whipped.He was taken by ambulance to a clinic in Alexandra with minor injuries.