South African ethnomusicologist, promoter and composer of African music Andrew Tracey was hit with a hammer on the head and held hostage with his wife by two men who broke into his Grahamstown home on Saturday.
The 80-year-old retired professor from Rhodes University, a widely respected and active member of the community, was at home with his wife Heather when the intruders held them hostage before fleeing with money and personal belongings.
Friend Ben Carver, who was one of the first people to arrive on the scene after the incident with his brother Christian, said one of the men was well known to the family as the couple had often hosted him in the house.
He said the couple had helped with his school tuition and fed him.
Carver said one man hit Tracey with an object on his forehead before tying the couple to a chair with an electrical cord.
The men then took the professor’s bank card and obtained his pin code. One man then went to the ATM and withdrew R3000 from the account.
Carver said when the man returned from the ATM, surprisingly, he gave back the bank card.
Heather managed to press a panic button and the two fled with the R3000, a laptop and cellphone.
“My brother [Christian] and I were just a few kilometres away when we got the call.
“We found him [Tracey] bleeding profusely. He has suffered extensive injury on his nose.
“The intruders entered through the back door.”
Carver said the two had left a pair of scissors on the table for the couple to untie themselves.
Security guards who responded to the panic alarm managed to arrest a man in possession of the laptop, the cellphone and the cash.
Grahamstown police spokesperson Khaya Tonjeni confirmed the incident and said a case of house robbery had been reported.
Tonjeni said the 22-year-old suspect in police custody was the man known to the Traceys.
“The second suspect is still at large but information about him is being followed up and the matter is being investigated,” said Tonjeni.
Tracey’s father Hugh started the acclaimed International Library of African Music (Ilam) in 1954 which is now housed at Rhodes University and is considered one of the world’s greatest collections.
Tracey headed up Ilam after his father’s death in 1977 and made his own field trips to record unheard-of musicians and instruments.
Working in sub-Saharan Africa during the apartheid years was a challenge for Tracey – until he started learning to play the ancient instruments himself.
A highlight of his life had been returning to villages taking along his father’s original recordings and then making more of his own, he told the Daily Dispatch in a 2011 interview. — firstname.lastname@example.org