Hijackers target disabled SA tennis star

2014-04-14 00:00

LUCAS Sithole, one of the world’s top quadriplegic wheelchair tennis players, is traumatised after four armed men tried to hijack his BMW on Friday night.

His trainer Holger Losch said Sithole and his brother were driving on the Newmarket on-ramp near Glenhazel in Johannesburg when the armed robbers hit his car from the front.

One of the robbers then jumped out and broke the passenger window with a brick.

“Luckily it did not hit Lucas’s brother. He and his brother were then thrown out of the vehicle and dragged to the side of the road,” coach Losch said yesterday.

Losch said Sithole’s wheelchair was left on the back seat and Sithole had to lie on the ground as the robbers tried to steal the car.

He said they could not get the car started, because Lucas had it specifically equipped so that he could reach various controls despite his quadriplegic limitations.

“The robbers eventually panicked and then grabbed their cellphones and ran off,” Losch said.

Sithole and his brother did not suffer any serious injury.

The tennis star on Saturday issued a media statement through Wheelchair Tennis South Africa, in which he said he was relieved to still have his car, wallet and life.

Losch said Sithole had already received specialist trauma counselling and would be on the tennis court today to prepare for the SA Open and Gauteng Open, which take place in two weeks.

Dr Adelbert Scholtz, a trauma specialist from Cape Town, said the attempted hijacking could not just be shrugged off and will affect Sithole’s game.

“Someone who is physically limited and goes through such a traumatic experience is more likely to suffer post-traumatic stress,” Scholtz said.

Losch is, however, not worried that Friday night’s events will affect Sithole’s game.

“We are monitoring him, but Lucas is very strong. He has overcome a lot of things.

“On top of this Lucas has already worked very hard for the coming matches. He won’t just give up.”

Sithole has not driven since Friday night.

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