Swiss tourist hijacked while husband was in hospital

2017-01-18 15:09


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Pretoria – An elderly Swiss couple’s holiday in South Africa turned into a nightmare after the husband fell ill a few days after their arrival in the country and his wife was hijacked.

Lisbeth Scalabrini, 73, and her 79-year-old husband Fabeo, who are being treated in a Johannesburg hospital, say they can’t wait to go home, Netwerk24 reported on Wednesday. 

It is the retired couple’s fourth visit to the country, but they say they won’t be back. 

The Scalabrinis arrived in South Africa on December 21 and stayed at a guest farm in Magaliesburg. The couple visits a warmer country every year, during the Swiss winter. This year, they had planned to visit Botswana, the Kruger National Park, and Cape Town.  

Two days after their arrival, Fabeo fell ill and was admitted to a Rustenburg hospital.

According to Lisbeth, they both came down with a lung infection, but her husband was hit worse.

“I don’t know where we picked it up. It could’ve been on the plane or at the airport or somewhere else. I also felt ill and at one stage was very weak,” she said.

Fabeo was transferred to a hospital in Johannesburg and Lisbeth followed him to Johannesburg in a rented car. 


She was hijacked between Johannesburg and Pretoria around 14:00 on Monday last week. She was admitted to the Alexandra clinic. Lisbeth says she cannot remember anything about the incident, other than having stopped somewhere to check her map.

The ring finger on her right hand is broken and her face swollen. She has several minor injuries.

“We’d looked forward to our holiday and the warm Cape Town weather. Then that happened and now we’ve got to go back to Switzerland.  

“It’s not good for the country. We want to go back as soon as possible. My husband won’t want to stay here and I won’t dream of coming back.”

Fabeo is still in the hospital’s ICU. 

Passports stolen

According to Lisbeth, they are struggling to get passports from the Italian Embassy in South Africa. They had travelled to South Africa on Italian passports. 

“It’s impossible to contact people because I didn’t have a phone and all my possessions have been stolen. Our friends contacted the Italian and Swiss embassies, but they are so slow.

“We’ve had no joy from officials. Fortunately, we have friends in South Africa and I don’t know what we would have done without them.”   

The most difficult, Lisbeth said, was not being able to help her ill husband.

“It killed me. To be robbed in a foreign country and left with nothing, isn’t a nice experience.”

Fabeo will be in hospital for at least another week. He will then have to stay in a hotel for another week to recover sufficiently to fly back to Switzerland. 

Read more on:    johannesburg  |  crime  |  hijackings

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