An elderly couple fear leaving their Sliema apartment and going outside after being mugged in broad daylight, a situation both believe is a reality for the majority of people their age.
Speaking to Times of Malta as a nurse tended to wounds on both her husband’s arms, the 87-year-old woman said the mugging occurred last Saturday while returning from Mass.
“We fear leaving our house. The owner of a small shop nearby has offered to deliver groceries and neighbours bring us food, which we appreciate because we do not feel safe going outdoors,” she said.
Though eager to come forward with their harrowing story to help raise awareness because they are certain there are many others who, like them, are living in fear, they admitted they were too scared to have their names published.
'He knocked him off the pavement'
Unlike what some people might have assumed when the attack made headlines last week, the two were not walking alone in the dark nor were they wearing any flashy jewellery when an unknown man approached them, ripping a necklace off her neck and punching her husband, 91, before running away, she pointed out.
“We went to the 6.30pm Mass and, as we were walking out, we met a friend. We spoke to her for a couple of minutes and then we started making our way home. It was still light outside because it could not have been later than 7.30pm when we suddenly saw a man approaching us,” she recalled.
The elderly lady said his behaviour did not seem strange, although, at one point, he started walking briskly towards them.
It could not have been later than 7.30pm when we suddenly saw a man approaching us
“Before I could say anything, he walked up to us and came so close to my face that, for a second, I thought he was about to touch me. He then quickly snatched a pearl necklace I was wearing.
“My husband tried to push him away from me, prompting the mugger to punch him so hard he knocked him off the pavement. The aggressor then ran away, only to return when we started screaming, telling me to stop because he had not done anything wrong,” she continued.
Frantically trying to get help for her husband, the woman said she could not recall what happened to the mugger and only remembers him running back in the opposite direction.
'We hardly go out later in the day'
Despite still visibly shaken by the ordeal a week later, the 87-year-old insisted she wanted to go public with her experience because she knew other elderly people were also just as afraid.
“After our experience and having heard so many other similar stories, we now go outside just for a short while in the morning but we hardly ever go out later in the day,” she said.
You know how I am feeling right now? That I do not belong to this country anymore.
Referring to efforts to encourage the elderly to keep active even after reaching retirement age, the woman insisted that people could not keep very active if they could not even go out for dinner.
Though still mobile and independent, such is their fear they could be attacked again that both she and her husband hesitate going to restaurants unless they are accompanied. They live alone.
“There are loads of coffee shops all around and sometimes I would not mind not preparing a meal and going out instead.
“It was such a relief when the grocer nearby offered to deliver food because that saves me having to go out alone, especially since my husband is still recovering from the assault,” she said.
'Wherever you go, you are in danger'
Acknowledging that plenty of people her age were living in fear, not only when they went out but also while alone in their own homes, the woman called for more police presence on the streets.
She insisted that though in places like Sliema police did patrol various areas frequently, this was not the case everywhere. She suggested that, instead of zooming past in cars, police officers should be walking around to better spot any suspicious behaviour.
“They [the muggers] seem to plan their attacks. You know how I am feeling right now? That I do not belong to this country anymore. I am not enjoying it anymore, wherever you go you are in danger,” the woman complained.
In recent weeks, the Times of Malta reported that several burglaries occurred in recent months, the majority at apartments. Sliema, St Julian’s, San Ġwann, Swieqi and Pembroke have been especially badly hit.
Readers, particularly the elderly, have expressed concerns with this newspaper.
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