Hijacked, he chose death

2011-06-03 00:00

A GENEROUS motorist who had offered lifts to people on the side of the road chose death rather than submitting to being hijacked after two passengers pulled guns on him on the N3 at Howick outside Pietermaritzburg on Wednesday evening.

The driver, only known as B. Tom, crashed his vehicle into a truck in front of him before he lost control and veered over the centre median on to the other side of the highway, where two more trucks crushed him to death.

One of the hijackers was also killed.

Police found the second hijacker injured at the scene of the incident and arrested him.

Thoko Mchunu (42) of Imbali was also in the vehicle, and is lucky to have escaped death.

Talking to The Witness while in her hospital bed yesterday afternoon, the mother of two children, aged 18 and 11, said she heard the driver telling the gunmen that he would rather crash the vehicle and die than be hijacked.

She is being treated for head, neck and chest injuries.

“The gunman on the front seat demanded that he take the Tweedie off-ramp outside Howick.

“One man had the gun pointed at the driver while another was hitting me with the gun on my chest,” she said.

The trouble started when Tom was travelling back home to Johannesburg from a business trip in Durban.

He stopped just after passing the Church Street off-ramp to give Mchunu a lift. She was travelling to meet her husband in Harrismith.

He also offered a lift to two men, who said they were going to Howick.

She said one man jumped into the front passenger seat while she sat with the second man at the back.

“They exchanged conversation with the driver. I started becoming suspicious when they continuously said they liked the man’s vehicle,” she said.

“At Howick the men offered to pay the driver, and he requested that the men pay him R10 each, but they both produced firearms and forced him to take the Tweedie off-ramp,” she said.

She said that when she saw a firearm being pointed at her she tried to open the door and jump out of the vehicle.

“However, the gunman said, ‘If you try to jump out I will shoot you’ before he locked the door.

He repeatedly hit me with the firearm on the chest while taking my purse, which had all my cards,” she said.

During the commotion, she said, she heard a gunshot then saw the vehicle crossing to the other highway lane where it collided with two trucks.

“Then I saw the two men in the front, sitting as if they were already dead. By then there were police vehicles and ambulances,” she said.

“The gunman who was with me on the back seat said, ‘Why did we take a hike in such a car?’ Then I said to him, ‘You caused all this,’ before I told the police what happened. He was then arrested,” she said.

Police spokesperson Captain Lolly Moodley said police found two 9mm pistols at the scene.

“The identity of the suspect that is deceased is unknown and the driver’s next of kin has not yet been informed,” said Moodley.

The matter is still under investigation,” he added.

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