Everyday hero: Taxi men chase crooks

2008-03-07 00:00

A PIETERMARITZBURG taxi driver fought armed hijackers inside his moving vehicle and chased them until they were arrested.

The taxi driver, who preferred to be identified only as Jerome, fought two hijackers armed with a firearm and a knife, with his bare hands.

Jerome had just started work at about 4.45 am when two men tried to hijack his vehicle near the corner of Bombay and Gandhi roads in Northdale.

“I had picked my first four passengers for the day when another ‘passenger’ with a lunchbox in his hand waved me down. I stopped to pick him up and a short distance after that I stopped for another one. At that moment the man with the lunchbox jumped from the back and pointed a gun at the back of my head and the other one put a knife on my throat.”

He said they pushed him aside and took his cellphone from his pocket. One of the hijackers took control of the vehicle.

Jerome said he was not frightened by the gun aimed at his head. “I am not scared of guns. My focus was on the man with a knife.”

The hijackers managed to drive a few hundred metres before the vehicle stopped.

“While they wondered what was happening I hit the man with a knife on the chin with my knee. In that instant I quickly took out the keys from the ignition and jumped out of the vehicle.”

Jerome said the gunman fired at him, but missed. Realising that their attempt had failed, they ran away with cellphones stolen from the passengers in the taxi.

Jerome jumped into the taxi and chased his attackers. Jerome’s colleague, Soyi Mabaso, saw the chase and joined in. During the chase, one of the hijackers fired shots at the vehicles and hit Mabaso’s vehicle twice in the back.

“It was just fortunate that there were no passengers in my taxi. Both went through the back seat and all the other seats into the front,” said Mabaso.

Jerome’s employer, Nazir Khan, commended him for his bravery. “He showed no fear for them, he is older and wiser. They were no match for him.”

The SAPS joined in the chase later, and arrested both men. Police spokesman Senior Superintendent Henry Budhram said two police officers chased the suspects on foot.

“One of the suspects was arrested by security guards at the nearby Assessment Centre, after he jumped over the wall to escape from the police.”

The police caught the other man in thick bush where he was hiding.

Khan praised the police for their swift action and efficiency. “I take my hat off to the Mountain Rise police for their bravery and efficiency.”

Budhram said a 9 mm pistol was recovered and it was established that it had been stolen. No one was injured during the incident.

sandilez@witness.co.za

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