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Kloof pensioner, 79, fights off knife-wielding attacker

Daily News logo Daily News 2019-05-31 Zainul Dawood

a man standing in front of a pool: Retired Sea World curator John Ballard was stabbed and bitten during a robbery at his Kloof home this week. © Provided by Independent Media Retired Sea World curator John Ballard was stabbed and bitten during a robbery at his Kloof home this week. Durban - RETIRED Sea World curator John Ballard used his swimming skills to disarm a man who had stabbed and bitten him on his hand during a robbery at his Kloof home this week.

Ballard, 79, said he had evened the odds by falling into his swimming pool with the robber in his grasp. 

He and his wife Gaye, 74, were sitting on their veranda on Wednesday when their dog’s bark alerted them to an intruder on the property.

Ballard, who worked for Sea World for nearly 50 years, followed his dog and caught sight of a man climbing over their back wall. He fetched his pistol from the house and went in search of the man, but could not find him.

Ballard went back to his wife. Suddenly the man appeared and grabbed his wife around the neck and placed a knife to her throat.

“He kept repeating: ‘I will kill her.’ He seemed deranged. I had my gun pointing at him but could not get a clear shot.

“He used Gayle as a shield. After his repeated demands to put the gun down, I had to comply or things would have turned ugly.

"I placed the gun on the floor. He loosened his grip on her throat and rushed towards the gun,” Ballard said.

Ballard grabbed him and a struggle ensued. The three of them fell on to the lawn. Ballard grappled with the man to disarm him. This is when he was stabbed and bitten.

Gaye Ballard ran into their home to contact the police and neighbourhood watch.

“As a commercial diver, I knew my strength lay in the water. I rolled with him from the lawn into the deep end of the pool. He dropped the knife, got out and ran off down the driveway. I evened the odds in the water,” Ballard said.

The police retrieved the knife from the bottom of the pool.

Although Ballard officially retired in October 2004, he has continued to mentor new staff at uShaka Marine World.

Police spokesperson Captain Nqobile Gwala said a case of attempted robbery had been opened at Pinetown police station.

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