Gran, child in hijack ordeal

2016-04-22 12:30

(Ian Carbutt, The Witness)

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Pietermaritzburg - A routine trip to fetch her grandchildren from school turned into a nightmare journey for a 69-year-old Pietermaritzburg woman on Wednesday afternoon.

The woman, who asked not to be named, was hijacked in Connor Road, Chase Valley, and, along with her distraught three-year-old grandson, was driven around by her assailants in her Mercedes-Benz C-Class for over an hour.

The drama began on Wednesday morning when she arrived at her Greyling Street business and saw a group of men looking at her car as she drove in.

“As I drove into the driveway, the five men walked in behind me. I thought they looked suspicious, so I reversed and parked where my car would be more visible to others.”

One of the men was a “very big guy wearing a navy blue tracksuit with a hood”.

The men watched her get out, standing close to where she was parked, so she called out as she opened up, pretending that someone was inside the premises.

The woman said the men hung around near the business during the day and she saw them again at around lunchtime.

In the afternoon she left to fetch her grandchildren from their various schools.

At Northern Park Primary she was told her grandson was being kept in after school because he had not finished his homework.

The grandmother then drove to fetch her three-year-old grandson from his Connor Road crèche.

“I was so happy to see him and, as we walked out, chatting about his day, I saw the same man with the navy blue tracksuit walking towards me.

“He said, ‘Excuse me,’ and then suddenly threw me to the ground and held me down on the grass. My grandson was on the other side of the car, and another man pulled something over his face when he started screaming. I screamed and he put his hand over my mouth and hit me on the head.

“I said, ‘Take my car! Leave my baby!”

But the men threw her and the toddler in the car, with the man in the tracksuit in the back with them.

“They smacked me in the face, and I am injured on my arms and back too. I saw the crèche lady running towards us, but it was too late. The man said, ‘If you scream, I will kill you’.”

As the car drove off, the woman realised she and her grandson were in grave danger.

“As we approached the robots at Grey’s Hospital, the car slowed down. We were surrounded by traffic and I decided to try and escape. I thought if I could grab my grandson and roll out of the car, we could get away. Even if I was slightly injured, it would be better than staying in the car with them.”

The woman opened the door and screamed, thinking people around would notice and help her.

“I was very, very scared.”

However, the track suit man grabbed both her and the door, slamming it shut. “The driver was swerving and the man next to me hit me, saying, ‘I told you if you scream I will kill you’.”

With her grandson screaming with fear, the woman endured a terrifying journey, through what she believes was the Sweetwaters area, the highway and then through side roads and dead ends in Hilton.

“I just held my baby and prayed. I could tell there was someone following them because they were on the phone asking, ‘Where are you?’

“Eventually they drove into a deserted field in Hilton and stopped the car. I thought this was the end for us,” said the woman.

The men then asked: “Where’s the money?” and made her open the boot.

She told them she had money in her handbag, which they took, but said they seemed convinced she had a larger amount and referred to her business.

Eventually the men left, locking her and the child in the car and tossing away the keys.

“I sat and waited for a long time. I was terrified they would come back. My grandson kept looking at me and saying ‘Naughty men.’ And I said, ‘Yes, my baby.’

When she was sure the men were gone, she left the car and sought help.

“After trying three homes, a man said he would help me. He phoned my husband and took me to the police station.

“It was very, very traumatic. I am going for counselling.”

The woman, who is nursing injuries from the assault, said she wanted to warn other women.

“Look around you all the time. If I had looked around me when I came out of the crèche, I would have seen them.”

Pietermaritzburg police spokesperson Sergeant Mthokozisi Ngobese said they are investigating a hijacking.

No arrests have been made.

Read more on:    pietermaritzburg  |  crime  |  hijackings

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