Johannesburg – After four “decent” robbers tied up and robbed Australian tourists on Thursday morning at a luxury resort in Mpumalanga, they asked their victims if they were “at least enjoying the Soccer World Cup”.
Kurt Mulder, owner and manager of Hamilton Parks Country Lodge near Hazyview, and six of the Australians were tied up in their rooms and robbed of thousands of rands in cash, cellphones, cameras and laptops.
The group had arrived at the lodge after Wednesday night’s match between Australia’s Socceroos and Serbia at Mbombela stadium.
Mulder was overpowered along with an Australian couple when he took them to their rooms.
The Australian Sunday Herald Sun and other media reported on the incident on Sunday.
“You don’t know what could have happened. Each of them had weapons with them. But after they started chatting to us, I began to relax,” said Mulder.
“We had barely come inside when we were overpowered by the four men. They were neatly dressed, polite and looked like they were trained,” Mulder said on Sunday.
“They tied our hands and feet and made us lie on the ground but didn’t hurt us at all or ill-treat the woman.”
“They did touch her back when they tied her up and she was afterwards taken to the hospital for treatment for shock.”
He said the robbers even made small talk with the tourists.
“The man was a French-born Australian. They asked him where he was from, whether he was in the country for the soccer and whether he was enjoying it! I was surprised, it was actually ludicrous.”
Mulder said the tourist asked one of the robbers, when he took his cellphone, if he would at least give him back his SIM card, which he then did.
“They spoke very good English and were between 25 and 35 years old.”
The men also tied up four other Australians in their rooms and stole from them.
Mulder said it was the first time that something like this had happened at the lodge.
The robbers had dug a hole underneath the boundary wall to gain access to the lodge. There was an electrical fence on the wall and security guards at the gates.
WC plans unspoilt
Mulder and the police denied allegations that a female tourist had been sexually assaulted and or raped.
The tourists had apparently told him that the incident would not spoil the rest of their plans for the Soccer World Cup.
“The four men who were tied up were heading for Durban afterwards, and said they were going on as planned.”
According to the Sunday Herald Sun, Steve Gaynor, whose possessions were stolen, said the robbers were “four Nigerian men”. But at the time of the robbery, Gaynor was at the bar and was not tied up.
Mulder said the men were definitely not Nigerian. “They spoke Sotho.”
Gaynor also told the newspaper: “I think they knew we were Australians staying at the hotel and targeted us because of it.”