Boy fights off kidnappers

2019-01-17 12:42


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“I thought I would never see my family again. They opened the door, grabbed me, put a blanket over my head and then one of the men sat on top of me so I could not move.”

This is what a 14-year-old Hilton youth told The Witness after he was grabbed and bundled into a car by two men in broad daylight on Tuesday afternoon.

The plucky teenager fought back and his abductors threw him out of the car not long afterwards, possibly to avoid drawing attention to themselves.

The youngster (who attends a high school in Pietermaritzburg) asked that his name not be published for security reasons.

He said he had been riding his bicycle along Park Lane in Hilton at around 5 pm on Tuesday when a car with two men approached him asking for directions.

“I didn’t think anything of it. I always look behind me when I ride and I did not see them so I didn’t think they were following me.

“They were very friendly. It looked like they both went to the gym because they looked like they worked out but I do not remember much else. Everything happened so quickly.

“They were South African. They said ‘Howzit bru. Do you know where Hilton College is?’

“As I was speaking one man flung open the back door and grabbed me. They threw a blanket over my head and then one of the men sat on top of me and they drove off.

“Everything went from being normal to me thinking I was being mugged, to realising I was being kidnapped and might be shipped off somewhere.

“When I asked them if they wanted money and begged them not to kill me, they said they didn’t want money and they were not going to kill me.”

The boy said while they were driving all he could think about was that he was about to be trafficked.

“I am 14. I just thought, I am so young. This can’t happen to me. I have to get out.”

The boy said he managed to wrestle the blanket off his head and saw the car’s passenger door was unlocked. “I opened the door but one of the men pulled me back in and I just punched him in the face as hard as I could.”

After the scuffle, the men slowed the car down near Hilton Kwikspar and threw the boy out.

“I think they realised I had caused a commotion and people might try to follow them,” he said.

The assailants sped off, leaving the teen stranded.

“I stood at the roadside calling for help but no one would stop. Eventually one man stopped and fetched my bicycle from where the men had grabbed me and took me to the police station.

“If the car’s doors had been locked things would have ended differently,” said the boy, who will undergo counselling.

The boy’s mother, who posted about the incident on Facebook, said she was “shattered” by what happened.

“We were told today my son’s case was not an isolated incident and that there were more attempted kidnappings around town,” she added.

“It’s by God’s grace my son is okay. I still cannot believe my son fought off a grown man.”

The mother said all parents need to be more aware of human trafficking.

“I just think that if my son had not fought back today could have been very different for the family.”

A source involved in the investigation who isn’t an official spokesperson and therefore cannot be named, confirmed that other alleged kidnapping incidents are being investigated locally. The source emphasised that parents should report all kidnapping and attempted kidnapping cases so that police can look at descriptions and patterns and start connecting the dots.

Late last year The Witness reported that a 14-year-old girl also came close to being kidnapped from outside Voortrekker High School while walking home.

She was in Roberts Road when a car with four men approached her and told her to get in. The girl ran off screaming and escaped unscathed.

In September last year an 11-year-old Northdale boy also narrowly escaped being kidnapped from outside his school at the corner of Gandhi and Ramlingum roads. He reported that the driver of a black BMW approached him and told him: “Boy, your mother said I must come pick you up. Come.”

Luckily he did not believe the man and fled back to school.

Provincial police spokesperson Colonel Thembeka Mbele confirmed a case of attempted kidnapping was opened at Hilton police station.

“Parents are advised not to let their children wander alone without supervision.

“After school, children must be picked up on time. Children must always be reminded not to accept lifts from strangers,” she added.

'Awareness is prevention

Red Light, an anti-human trafficking project under the Domino Foundation, said awareness is prevention.

In South Africa there were minimal statistics making it difficult to assess just how many kidnappings or attempts occurred.

“But they are definitely happening on our doorstep. They are just hidden,” said Lauren Cullen of Red Light. 

Read more on:    pietermaritzburg  |  kidnapping

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