Hijacked man tied to tree, walks hours to safety

2010-10-08 00:00

AFTER walking about 20 kilometres to safety after he was hijacked and robbed and spent hours tied to a tree with a belt in the cold on Wednesday, a Howick man is happy to be alive.

Willem van den Berg (47) was hijacked while driving home from work.

He was robbed at gunpoint on District Road 369 in the Lions River area after he stopped to remove a log blocking his way. Now his advice to other motorists is to avoid stopping at night at all costs.

“All sorts of things went through my mind. I thought of my wife, my daughter and my three-year-old grandson …

“I begged them to take the car and let me go back to my family,” he said yesterday.

He said his robbers did not assault him, but by the way they handled him, they meant business.

“… At some stage when I begged them to take the vehicle and let me go, they told me that is not how hijackings operate.”

Van den Berg said there was a big log lying across the road as he travelled from Stonelees Diary, where he works, at about 9.30 pm.

“I didn’t pay particular attention to it since there usually are branches that fall into the road in the area.”

But before he could get out, he was confronted by an armed man who had been hiding in the bushes.

“It all happened so quickly, but I had planned to speed off and ride over the logs. The problem was, a second guy had also appeared on the passenger side. And because I had already unlocked the car, he was inside the car in a flash …”

Van den Berg was forced to lie down with his hands behind his back. He was then handcuffed. A third man in a white Mazda arrived. He believes the third man was needed to help carry him to the back of his bakkie.

The hijackers then drove about 20 kilometres towards Karkloof. He was told to walk into the forest, where he thought he was going to die.

He was tied to a telephone pole with his own belt and the handcuffs were removed.

He managed to release himself and walk about 20 km back to Howick. At the Amberglen retirement village, a security guard assisted him to get to the police station.

“I’m not sure how long I was tied up for, but when I looked at the clock when we got to the police station it was about 1.40 am.”

He said he is traumatised and has been taking tablets to calm down. He said he had never prayed so hard in his life. “... But even though it was not a nice thing to have happened, I’m happy to be alive.”

People who can help with the investigation and may know the whereabouts of the vehicle, a white Toyota Hilux bakkie with registration NR 8485, should call Captain Subba Naidoo at 033 239 9330/082 411 6535 or phone Crime Stop on 086 001 0111.

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