Wet and wild in Durbs

2014-01-20 00:00

IN the space of 24 hours in the same Pine­town suburb, one car landed upside down in a river, and a hijacked car landed in a swimming pool.

But residents of Ashley have praised police, neighbourhood watch patrollers and emergency services for both bizarre incidents, in which a couple were rescued from drowning in their car, and two hijackers were shot in a firefight with police before crashing into a suburban yard.

On Friday night, a VW Polo was hijacked in Hatton Estate, Pinetown, and later pursued in a dramatic, high-speed chase through Ashley, which had residents furiously messaging on neighbourhood watch forums as the sounds of sirens and gunshots sounded.

Police spokesperson Colonel Jay Naicker said: “Durban K9 police tried to stop two suspects … who opened fire and police retaliated. The suspects drove into a house at Dorfner Road where the car crashed into a pool. One suspect was declared dead at the scene and the other suspect was arrested.”

A patroller for the Ashley Residents Neighbourhood Watch (ARNW) — who asked to be identified only as “Neil” — said: “The neighbours weren’t shocked so much as they were ecstatic that the cops got these guys.”

On the neighbourhood’s website, Kate Allison wrote “Go SAPS!!”; and Ellen Attwell said: “Well done — [that] was rather scary!”

Naicker said that the second suspect would be charged with attempted murder and hijacking and will appear in the Pinetown Magistrate’s Court after treatment in hospital.

In the same neighbourhood, less than 24 hours earlier, resident Natalie Laubscher (19) and her boyfriend found themselves upside down and trapped in their Opel Corsa in a small river running beneath Mariannhill Road.

Justin Bosse, chairperson of ARNW, said: “We understand they had to swerve to avoid a white bakkie and went over the bridge.”

Members of Durban fire department, RescueTech and paramedics extricated both crash victims while ARNW patrollers co-ordinated with the SAPS.

Bosse described as the rescue as “brilliant work”.

RescueTech spokesperson Nic Holmes said rescuers had to wade into the shallow river to get to the victims — and that drowning would have been a threat “had the car landed a couple of metres either side of where it landed”.

Bosse said Laubscher suffered a concussion, but that she had been discharged from hospital and was recovering at home. He said Laubscher’s boyfriend — who was reported at the scene to be a Metro police officer — “sustained injuries to the head and body”, and was recovering at Hillcrest Hospital.

Laubscher’s step-mother Barbara told the ARNW forum: “A very special and heartfelt thank you to all the emergency services and community members who were on scene and assisted at this accident. My stepdaughter was the passenger and is now home resting. Justin you are a guardian angel — what would we do without you.”

Another resident, Henning Venter, told patrollers: “Thanks for responding so quick — five minutes till the first guy was on scene. Your professional conduct was impressive. I am a happy neighbour.”

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