Family 'shattered' by fake hijack

2012-10-19 10:21

Durban - The KwaZulu-Natal man who claimed he was hijacked and alerted his daughter using a text message is now a fugitive on the run.

Police were poised to arrest Leon van Rensburg, 52, this week as his concocted tale of hijacking finally caught up with him - but he learnt of their plans and fled his family home, ditching his car in the underground parking at Durban’s International Convention Centre (ICC).

The Witness has established that he was seen entering the carpark just before 16:00 on Wednesday, and walked out a few minutes later, carrying a bag. He was wearing a short-sleeved shirt and shorts, with a cap pulled down low over his head.

Family spokesperson Rob Gardner confirmed he later retrieved the vehicle from the parking area. He said the tracking device on the car was activated to establish its location. The Witness ascertained Gardner had fetched the car with Van Rensburg’s older son, Graham, 23, at about 23:30. Gardner said he paid Van Rensburg’s parking ticket.


Police spokesperson Colonel Jay Naicker said Van Rensburg was wanted for allegedly making false statements under oath. Westville detectives had found “inconsistencies” in his statement about the “hijacking”. The father of three left behind a note threatening suicide, and his family is said to be distraught by his actions.

Gardner said a cellphone SIM card was inside the car, but no phone was found. “He has a small amount of money on him, but no access to any further funds. We have no idea [where he has gone], but suspect he may have caught a bus as the ICC is close to the bus station.”

Police took a statement from Van Rensburg last Friday, less than 24 hours after he suddenly appeared following his disappearance on Tuesday. But his version of events raised suspicions with officers and coincided with rampant social media speculation about the veracity of his story.

His disappearance initially brought on huge outpourings of concern from the public and, when he was found, the collective relief was shared widely on the internet. That relief soon turned to scepticism when Van Rensburg was unable to adequately explain his whereabouts during his disappearance.

He told police he was hijacked at gunpoint by two men in a bakkie, who dropped him off in Underberg. His car was found last Wednesday, more than 100km away in Kokstad. Hours before his disappearance was noted, Van Rensburg had sent his daughter Megan, 15, a text message saying: “Help, hijacked”.

Now the family knows that the ordeal was faked - and the revelation is said to have shattered them.

In a statement issued by Gardner, they said Van Rensburg’s actions were out of character.


“It is hard to explain his actions and they do not fit into the pattern of a normally quiet family man. Leon is much loved by his wife and children, and anyone seeing them together would know that he in turn loved all of them dearly.

“So his sudden staging of a hijacking and the trauma it has put not only the family, but the greater Highway community, is baffling. His now disappearing with simply a note claiming serious illness and intent to commit suicide has left the family stunned.

“We hope and pray that he will be found safe and can be given the medical attention he so obviously needs at this time.”

The family said news of his impending arrest had hit them hard and they were struggling to come to terms with “what would appear to be [Van Rensburg’s] complete emotional and perhaps mental breakdown”.

Neither police nor the family have offered any motive for his actions.

Armed with an arrest warrant on Wednesday, police contacted Van Rensburg and scheduled a meeting. Naicker said he agreed to meet them because “he said he had more information”.

However, when he failed to arrive, the investigating officer contacted the family on Thursday, who only then revealed Van Rensburg had disappeared.

Naicker warned Van Rensburg’s family and friends from harbouring him, “as they will find themselves in conflict with the law”.

  • Andrea - 2012-10-19 10:31

    Wow, what a sad twist.

      liveby.thesword.1 - 2012-10-20 00:06

      this blokes an ultimate chop!

  • ann.murray.9279 - 2012-10-19 10:33

    Absolutely astounding ~ what a tale!

      lorain.maseko - 2012-10-19 10:50

      No it's not astounding at all a few of us said it when the story broke out we were accused of being heartless.

      lownabester - 2012-10-19 11:41

      Yip and our posts were remove, when we said "something Fishy"

      lorain.maseko - 2012-10-19 11:53

      @ Omo truer word have never been spoken.

      merven.halo - 2012-10-19 14:31

      I can't believe that he could do that to his family, he will get what he deserves... - 2012-10-20 06:13

      @Loraine and Lowna. Agree with you 100%, when we said this doesn't sound right and raised questions our comments were reported and/or removed. Where are those people who did that now?

      Jo.Davies123 - 2012-10-20 15:20

      @Lairaun. I got serious abuse when I suggested when he was "found" that something doesn't sound right. It really didn't take a lot to see that his actions were "off". Phoning your ex-brother-in-law and not your wife?!?

      Jo.Davies123 - 2012-10-20 15:23

      @Lorain, sorry, I spelt your name wrong #Facesmack

  • Gichumz - 2012-10-19 10:33

    what a dumass

  • jan.plank.35 - 2012-10-19 10:34

    Left a note claiming serious illness - yes serious illness in the head.

      jackie.m.dickson - 2012-10-19 11:10

      Um yes in the head? The story says the family are worried about his emotional & possibly nervous breakdown. Its doesnt excuse his behaviour but at the same time being in a state like that anything is possible. People hide issues very well but sometimes in the end its just too much and you crash. People around you are very surprised because they never knew. Its really sad. Have been there myself and I hope hes found alive so he can get help. Although a part of me feels it would be easier for him if he isnt.

  • richard.hipkin - 2012-10-19 10:34

    Apparently the real story is better than 50 Shades of Grey!!

  • ben.louw.5 - 2012-10-19 10:37

    A total loon or looking for some excitement...

  • vambozha.mutemi.9 - 2012-10-19 10:43

    Breaking Bad! He is with Jessy!

  • lorain.maseko - 2012-10-19 10:48

    HAAAA!!! I said it from the start,it was way to obvious.

  • rasthami.m1 - 2012-10-19 10:54

    At 1st cops were on the search for him , now they is a man hunt for him ,this is 1 hilarious old man -south africas dumbest criminal

  • ruaan.ferreira.9 - 2012-10-19 10:55

    Probably needs cash urgently,insurance scam gone wrong..............

  • johann.enslin.9 - 2012-10-19 11:01


  • bridgette.elk.7 - 2012-10-19 11:06

    Sounds like something out of a movie !

  • johan.harlaar.9 - 2012-10-19 11:06

    What ever is going on with the man, I hope he will get back on track. If his actions are out of character he is clearly distraught about something and I hope he gets the attention he needs. God Blesess his family and him. And sarcastic remarks from the public don't help. It actually show the general emotional make up of the people who make them.

  • Tshepo Ditshego - 2012-10-19 11:14

    I didn't believe the story when I read it the first time, seems like an episode of DISAPPEARED!

  • moi.carla.1980 - 2012-10-19 11:15

    He loves his family? Yes, his actions scream love. What kind of an idiot puts his family through that kind of terror and trauma??

  • christopher.m.lowe - 2012-10-19 11:16

    Sure his family are shattered. And what about the SAPS and the effort and energy and money (YOUR money) spent in trying to find this idiot? The next time somebody genuinely shouts "Help!" people might not be so quick to assist. I hope they find the idiot, charge him with everything they can and make him pay back every cent of public monies he wasted. This tjop belongs in a prison cell.

  • leila.monroe - 2012-10-19 11:19

    'He loved his children dearly'...REALLY?? So loving ur children so much means you put them through this emotional disaster and embaressment?? Seriously! You need to be locked up forever!! Retard, moron!!

  • nyiko.ngobeni.5011 - 2012-10-19 11:30

    I said it! Nyatsi...

  • byron.smith.355744 - 2012-10-19 11:31

    ha knew it..hate to say told u so

  • peter.brown.940436 - 2012-10-19 11:36

    Just as I said at the time, "interesting to see the true story"

  • UncleShep - 2012-10-19 11:38

    Now to all the people who posted hate messages on the first article 'Help, hijacked' - Dad's last SMS will y'all take back yo words....? Just asking

      DuToitCoetzee - 2012-10-19 11:53

      You should now the ones that judge first/jump to conclusions has shorts memories.

      lorain.maseko - 2012-10-19 11:57


  • rwetyitp - 2012-10-19 11:40

    Now everybody is gonna take credit of how they saw it from the start it was a scam...bollocks...leave the man alone

      Morné Els - 2012-10-19 11:48

      Correct,we are going to take credit. We said its a fishy story last week,just to be told we are heartless. Its not a case of leaving the man alone. He wasted police time and resources...

  • thethird.wors - 2012-10-19 11:48

    WHAT A JACKASS. Cops are already overworked and then you go pull such as stunt. You suck dude.

  • siphom.mnguni - 2012-10-19 13:30

    He did not get enough of a mistresses, so he is out for a repeat. What is three days anyway that he took the last time. In Nguni we say \ingoma emnandi iyaphindwa\. Loosely translated \ if you can't get enough of something, there's nothing wrong with repeat\. Let those who claimed to have prayed night and day the last time do it more louder this time around. Uyisikhokho baba. Guess I need to translate again:\you are the real-deal, sir!\

  • beverly.pearce.33 - 2012-10-19 17:32

    Question his state of mind nd why make his family suffer.

      siphom.mnguni - 2012-10-19 17:51

      He is a selfish cheating bastard without morals. Where is he right now? Guess he is cosy in the arms of his mistress. Wait you will be reading of an amicable divorce soon with a but we are stil friends nonsense.

  • debduplessis - 2012-10-19 17:49

    He has a girlfriend and didnt have B***s to admit it to his wife!

      siphom.mnguni - 2012-10-19 17:52

      Typical of a coward!

      dudu.son.1 - 2012-10-21 11:23

      Good people, something needs to be done, he is not mentally ok. I say dis cos hes said to have bn a responsible pereson, otherwise . I would say he is moving out of a syndicate and in danger but, comparing lies for faking a hijack than what he is doing now indicate mental disturbance or in genuie danger.

  • John - 2012-10-19 22:07

    What has he to gain by this charade? What is his motivation? So far his only possible crime is his false statement under oath if he even made one. Very confusing seeing WE do not have access to said statement.

  • elizabeth.bourkewright - 2012-10-20 08:33

    My heart breaks for him and his family!! Such huge change in behaviour can often be a sign of a tumour or growth on the brain or spinal column! Hope he is found soon, unharmed and he can get the treatment he needs!

  • louise.minnie - 2012-10-20 08:47

    nothing is too big for God he must go to hospital and the family must be left alone to get on with their lives. I feel very sorry for them and he is making things worse by running

      jaded.oldfart - 2012-10-20 10:08

      lots of things are too big for god. for example: children who die of cancer, the thousands who starve to death, amputees... need i go on?

      erica.pienaar.7 - 2012-10-21 15:02

      Maybe he is really ill and cant handle it well. Lets give him a break. I understand it is hard for the family but when he is ready he will talk. We must not be so judgemental. just my humble opinion.

  • nicolene.lephuthing - 2012-10-20 08:48

    What a coward he should have told his wife he wants divorce that's it

      shaunisaac.malambo - 2012-10-21 14:33

      Divorce = Money Happy Meal = Priceless

  • Jo.Davies123 - 2012-10-20 15:22

    I feel for the family. Wife and kiddies were obviously not let in on his plan and now they have worry and shame to deal with.

  • neville.watson.94 - 2012-10-20 15:48

    I think he was with a skelmpie

  • bongile.langa - 2012-10-20 21:04

    Sick MORON!!!!

  • grant.montgomery.5074 - 2012-10-20 21:06

    An apprenty loving family does this. It sounds like his mind went. I feel for him and his family.

  • polite.mkhonto.3 - 2012-10-20 21:54


  • anele.mveku - 2012-10-20 22:31

    This man is 52years old for Gods sake why is he acting 25? Thz seriously something wrong with him.

      gerhardw - 2012-10-20 22:50

      I do not know any 25 year olds that act like this. Maybe teenagers?

  • GOD4SA - 2012-10-20 22:58

    The general knowledge on mental illnesses are poor in our country....WHY? I trust that people making negative remarks are not in managerial positions! Let us rather pray for ill people! Ask yourself again...What Would Jesus Do †

  • andrejcarstens - 2012-10-21 10:44

    I just have to point out how easily Joe Public is charged for a minor offense and a warrant of arrest issued. Now consider how hard it would have been for NPA to arrest this man if he was a politician or a judge. Scales are unfairly tipped in SA

  • goldwright - 2012-10-21 13:05

    My comment has been hijacked - not fair! What was so bad about it News 24 besides me saying (in a nutshell) that there is always a catalyst for a person's "emotional & perhaps mental breakdown". So unless he has some sort of neurological illness, like a brain tumour or some other serious neuro illness, or he has some sort of serious psychiatric illness, - he really does need to be held responsible for wasting police time. A "mid life crisis" or something of the sorts, like getting into debt, is really no excuse for what he did.

  • shaunisaac.malambo - 2012-10-21 14:26

    Now I wonder who is the clever one that invented the word hijack? I hope they arrest this beast and send him straight to jail, where he belongs, the F#$%^% criminal.

  • mbulelo.somzana - 2012-10-21 18:57

    Clearly the man has gone made.

  • mbulelo.somzana - 2012-10-21 18:57

    Clearly the man has gone mad

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