Elderly hijacking victim surprised at going viral

Cape Town - An elderly woman who was thrown from her car during a hijacking in Somerset West is coping well and surprised that the video of the incident has gone viral.

“I am okay. I was really angry at the time,” 86-year-old Sue Smuts said from her home, which she shares with her son Richard, on Tuesday afternoon.

“I am surprised about the video. It might make people aware of what to do when they get in and out of their car so I suppose it’s a good thing.”

She also struggled to find words when told that a Durban woman had seen the video and wanted to do "something nice" for her. Another man had contacted News24 to say he wanted to assist Smuts with a car if she didn’t have insurance.

“That is very lovely and nice,” she said.

Her son said she was stronger than she appeared on the video and he was glad to have half her genetics “because she just keeps on going”.

Smuts had parked her car outside her home on April 29 when a man walked up to it and tried to open the door, as seen in surveillance footage. Finding it locked, he tapped on the window and managed to put his arm in and open the door. He pulled Smuts from the car and drove off, leaving her slumped against a low wall in shock.

Her car, handbag and wallet were recovered 22 hours later and a 37-year-old suspect arrested. He appeared in the Somerset West Magistrate’s Court on Monday.

Western Cape police spokesperson Captain FC van Wyk said the man was arrested when he returned to the car he had allegedly abandoned in Macassar.

The man had apparently tried to swap her groceries in the car for cash at the Eersterivier Pick n Pay. A cashier alerted police when the man failed to answer why he was returning the groceries. The shopping chain later delivered fresh groceries, flowers and a gift card to Smuts.

The Witness newspaper circulation manager, Liezl Koekemoer, 35, said she was very emotional when she watched the footage on a website on Tuesday morning.

“My mom has recently had a stroke so just looking at this woman sitting helplessly for a long time… I feel absolutely horrid, absolutely angry at the guy and just feel so sad for her,” she told News24.

“I don’t know what her circumstances are like. We all like to get nice things but I just thought Mother’s Day is coming up and I was going to contact a florist and send her something, or if she is comfortable, deposit money so she can go do something for herself.”

Smuts thanked the reader, saying it "was not necessary, but if she wants to" she would accept the offer.

Smuts said she was coping well and kept busy by baking for home industries in the morning. She also liked music and painting.

The former secretary said it was important to keep active.

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