Family’s hijack ordeal

2007-12-20 00:00

“ALL the while I sat there looking down, praying and thinking about the safety of my wife and my child.” David Luthuli recounted the two-hour hijacking ordeal on Tuesday night when he faced the prospect of being killed with his wife Sizani (34) and their child of 19 months.

The couple, of Unit 15 in Imbali township, spent most of Tuesday night in the rain with their baby. The hijackers drove them around for an hour before throwing them out at different spots.

Luthuli (34), who came back from overseas on Sunday, told The Witness last night that the ordeal began just as he returned home from fetching his wife from Unit 2.

“It was around 7.45 pm when I pulled the car over in the yard and rushed to open the door to the house … two men armed with guns surrounded the car, confronted me and ordered us to the back seat. We complied.”

The gunmen took control of the vehicle and drove in the direction of France township, towards Richmond Road, forcing Luthuli to look down, away from their faces. Luthuli said the men told him they were hired to kill him a month ago. This struck him as odd since he had just returned from abroad and couldn’t think why anyone would want to kill him.

As they approached France, the men demanded money. The couple had only R30 between them, but their attackers wanted more and threatened to kill them. Sizani told them she had some at home and they raced back to the house.

“One of the men went into the house and came back not only with the money but two leather jackets and a radio. The money was in a purse, it was R2 400. Cellphones, an ID book and bank card were also taken. They drove us away … they were swearing at us,” said Sizani.

The vehicle returned in the same direction, going towards Thornville. Near Thornville, Sizani and the baby were ordered out of the car. The hijackers left them standing on the side of the road while they drove off with Luthuli towards Umlaas Road. Then Luthuli was also ordered out of the car in the middle of nowhere. Neither spouse knew where the other was, and they were disoriented in the rain and mist.

“As they drove off with him, I thought they would kill him. I hitch-hiked until a bakkie stopped by and helped me to the police station. I was crying, not knowing what was going on,” said Sizani.

Luthuli walked over a kilometre to a police station where he reported the incident, only to be told his wife had already made a statement. He was taken to Plessislaer Police Station, where he found his wife.

Police spokesman Superintendent Henry Budhram confirmed the case is being investigated. However, by last night, the police had not come to the couple’s home to dust for fingerprints.

The stolen car is a VW Jetta 4 (NP 153 634). It has not been recovered.

Crime statistics released on December 6 for the period from April to September 2007 show that hijackings increased by 8,6% compared with the same period in 2006.

nathi@witness.co.za

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