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19 April 2021

Rustenburg – “He wants to kill you!” Even for a revered psychologist like Dr Amanda Agathagalou, these words and the ordeal of Monday 12 April are going to haunt her for time to come. Usually being the one helping others dealing with trauma, Dr Agathagalou and her colleagues were on the receiving end of it when a – what seemed to be drug induced, psychotic man – tried to shoot them at their Kerk Street offices on Monday 12 April. 
In an interview with Platinum Weekly, Dr Agathagalou shared details about the horrifying incident as it unfolded that fateful morning. “The first thing everyone asks me is, ‘Do you know him? Is he a patient of yours?’ Until that Monday morning, I have never before seen or met him in my life!”  
The first time this gun-wielding mentally unstable 35-year-old man entered their practice, Dr Agathagelou was in the reception area and the man mistook her for the receptionist. “I introduced myself and I asked him what I could assist him with. He asked if I received his report, which I told him I had not,” she said. 
“I am going to kill everyone at Benhaus,” he aggressively told Dr Agathagalou. Before she could respond, he slipped out. 
A little while later, intrusively aggressive and threatening, he returned. “Inadvertently, I was in the reception area yet again. He said: ‘I am looking for the woman with the long blonde hair, the one who has only one leg.’ I was standing an arm’s length away from him and assured him that such a person does not work at our premises. Again, he stormed off. He was obviously mentally unstable, so I warned my receptionist to not allow him back in again.” 
A few minutes passed and as a client walked out, he yet again gained access – this time armed with a pistol. The receptionist activated their silent alarm. He shouted and fitted his gun with a silencer and laser. The entire ordeal was recorded on CCTV footage. 
He stormed into the audiologist’s office where he found two practitioners, a man and woman. He pointed the gun on the man and pulled the trigger… 
Click.
Nothing happened, and he pulled the trigger three more times. Click, click… click! Still – no gunshot went off! The man leaped up and a scuffle ensued. The trigger-happy intruder gained control and this time he pointed his gun at the women, pulling the trigger. Click… click… click! By grace only, yet again, no shots went off. 
“Was it guardian angel? I can’t even imagine what my colleagues were feeling or thinking in the moments they thought were their last!” Dr Agathagalou said. “I could hear him – he kept on shouting, ‘where is Amanda?!’
During the brawl, the gun’s silencer and laser somehow detached and fell on the floor. 
“I peeked into the passage when my receptionist cringed and urgently whispered, ‘He is looking for you. He wants to kill you!’ I grabbed her by the arm and together we ran through the conference room, past the office where he was assaulting my colleague. We only caught a glimpse of the dreadful scene. We went outside, locked the outside door, and hid at the braai-area. We then heard him shouting as he was looking for me, ransacking the place. I will never forget the sounds and the way I felt.” 
At the time of the incident, six people were in the office: Dr Agathagalou, her receptionist, two colleagues, a psychiatrist and his patient. “I am grateful that the perpetrator never entered the office of our psychiatrist where he was busy with a patient.” 
He might have been successful the third time around. Thankfully, without success, the gunman, it seemed, decided to take off. He stormed to the reception area but could not get out at the push-button door. 
“With strength I cannot fathom, he stormed the door – again and again. It’s a strengthened shatter-glass door, but he just kept at it. Being as strong as an ox, he succeeded in breaking the glass to get out!” Dr Agathagalou said.
When the alarm was sounded the police and several community safety groups pulled together to locate the man. 
In the meantime, his identity was discovered and on Wednesday evening, 14 April, he was finally apprehended by the police, due to appear before court on Friday morning 16 April.
“He is mentally unstable – clearly a threat to himself and society. He needs professional help and should be admitted. I am confident that, if left to his own devices, he will again try to kill someone,” Dr Agathagalou added.
Dr Agathagalou made contact with Benhaus Mining, warning them of the death threats uttered by the man suffering from a mental disorder. 
Police spokesperson captain Elsabé Augoustides confirmed that two cases had been opened – a case of pointing a firearm and that of malicious damage. “Thank you to all the stakeholders who assisted us in the process.”

Police and community safety groups responded immediately after the alarm was raised. 

 

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