Confronting dangerous criminals is one of the hazards of the job for security guards – those unsung heroes of the banks, office parks, shopping centres, parking lots.
Phumlani Village resident Brenda Jansen found herself in just such a situation when she came face to face with a knife-wielding robber.
Ms Jansen, 31, who has been a security guard for nine years, had just started working at Power’s show village in 14th Avenue, Pelican Park, when she found herself caught in a life or death struggle on Friday September 14.
When the mother of two heard a woman screaming outside the show house complex, she rushed to her aid.
She was opening the gate for a sale agent when she noticed a man in a yellow T-shirt and shorts with his back to her standing across the road. He was with a nervous-looking woman and her two children.
“ At first, I ignored it because I thought it was her husband,” said Ms Jansen. But then the woman starting screaming for help.
“ I left the gate open. I ran up towards her, and the children also began to run.
“The guy wanted to run across the field, but I grabbed him and he came from behind. As he turned around, he pressed the knife at me and I just moved back. He managed to cut me across my chest; he was too fast for me. The lady started crying because he took her money, card and her cellphone”.
Ms Jansen flagged down a passing police car as she was pursuing the robber and gave the officers his description. Then she tried to calm down the two children, aged about 6 and 7, chatting to them in Xhosa. “They kept saying, ‘The man wanted to stab my mother, he has a knife, he has a knife.’ I told them to calm down and took them to the park in the complex. I told them, ‘Don’t worry, they’re going to get him.’ I then ran to the guard house, and I heard over the radio, ‘Brenda, Brenda. You were a big help because we just caught the guy now and they (SAPS) are moving towards you.’”
The women’s possessions were recovered and the police thanked Ms Jansen for helping them nab the robber. So did the woman’s husband when his children phoned him to say they were okay.
“It’s a nice feeling to help someone else, especially since I’m a security officer; I felt it was my duty to help, even though it was not in my area. She was screaming for me to help,” said Ms Jansen.
Ironically, the riskiest part of her day is before and after her shift.
“As a security, we have to wake up 4 o’clock in the morning. We are constantly in danger when you’re on your way to work or when you have to go home. When I worked at Shoprite, sometimes we have to work from 8am until 8pm. I then have to cross a dark field, only armed with pepper spray. I have already been mugged on my way home. They stole my ID, my phone and cards.
“I’ll do everything for my children. That’s why I get up at 4 o’clock in the morning and come home after 6. I walk through the squatter camp, every morning and night just to provide for my children, so that they can live comfortably”.”