Witness describes hijacking of US official in Joburg

2016-05-24 14:11
Mobile city councilman CJ Small. (City of Mobile)

Mobile city councilman CJ Small. (City of Mobile)

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Johannesburg - A woman has described witnessing the incident in which a US councilman was attacked and shot in the face on a Johannesburg tour bus over the weekend.

It was reported on Monday that CJ Small, from Mobile, Alabama, was shot when the tour bus he was in was hijacked by armed robbers in Edenvale. He and other occupants were robbed of their cellphones and other valuables.

Small was reportedly shot in the cheek and underwent surgery in a Johannesburg hospital. He was said to be in a stable condition and expected to make a full recovery.

- Read more: US official shot in the face on Joburg tour bus

Netwerk24 reported on Tuesday that Lucia Coelho, 24, had seen the drama play out before her eyes.

She and a friend were behind a silver Hyundai H1 minibus while waiting for the red light to change at an intersection in Isandovale, a suburb of Edenvale, at about 13:40 on Saturday when they saw a blue BMW pull up.

Coelho told Netwerk24 she thought the BMW driver wanted to make a U-turn, but suddenly four men jumped out and moved towards the minibus, while one shot at it with a pistol.

The men opened the front doors of the minibus and pulled out the occupants, while one of them pressed the gun to the driver's head before pushing the occupants back into the minibus.

Coelho said she and her friend realised they must get away, and drove onto the curb to flee the scene.

She immediately reported the incident to the police's emergency number.

A police official later called her to say they could not find the crime scene and believed that both vehicles had driven off. She is still waiting for them to take her statement, she added.

A spokesperson for the Edenvale police station confirmed the incident, telling Netwerk24 that the victims were later found in Cleveland, Johannesburg, but the minibus has not yet been traced.

The US embassy in Pretoria also confirmed the incident, saying it is providing assistance to the victim and keeping track of developments in the investigation. It would not give further details on the victim's condition.

Small, who owns a mortuary, was in the country to attend the South African Funeral Director & Morticians Association Convention.

A representative released a statement on Tuesday to say that Small was transferred to a private hospital and is receiving "the best of care" while he awaits the opportunity to return home.

"Great news! Councilman CJ Small was transferred to a Trauma Centre in Johannesburg, South Africa on Monday and is getting the care he needs," the statement read.

"He is in stable condition and both his short and long-term prognoses are positive".

Read more on:    johannesburg  |  crime

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