MICHELLE Payne, wife of former Munster star and team manager Shaun, has spoken of her husband’s “hijacking” at gunpoint by four men in their native South Africa.
The former Thomond Park marketing executive spoke out about the incident, which took place in January, “with the hope that it makes people more aware and observant” and after the couple’s children had been informed of the “exact details of the night, with the help of our trauma counsellor”.
The couple lived in Ballina during their time here. Shaun, who was capped 109 times for the province, making his debut in 2003 and who spent four years as team manager with Munster, finishing up in the role in 2012, was hijacked by the men after dropping his two children off to stay in a friend’s house.
“They then forced him into the car and drove to our house. I won’t go into detail but they held us hostage, assaulted and tazered us, then proceeded to clean us out of most of our electronic equipment, jewellery and anything of value,” said Ms Payne, who worked as a business development executive in Thomond Park.
The Munster legend, who also played 90 times for the Natal Sharks, appeared to have been followed from his home by the men and seems to have been lucky to escape without serious injury in the Cape Town incident.
“The police that evening were incredible, the flying squad managed to recover some of our items within a few hours thanks to the technology of the vehicle recognition cameras. Three days later my car was recovered,” said Michelle.
Ms Payne said that they had survived the attack “because of the amazing support and help we have received from family and friends that we are surrounded by”.
“To all our friends who have supported us in so many ways I couldn’t possibly list them all. Please know that every text message, email and phone call from all over the world is so appreciated and helped us deal with this,” she said.