Pretoria - All Taégrin Morris was looking forward to on Saturday night was a meal at McDonald’s.
Now the 4-year-old boy is lying in a mortuary, his mangled body testimony to the hijacking that saw him dangling from his mother’s car before it was found abandoned 4km down the road.
His head and body possibly hit the road as the car sped away.
“Mommy, help me,” were the last words Chantel Morris heard from her son. She watched him hang helplessly out the door of her speeding car, hijacked outside her grandmother’s home in Reiger Park, Ekurhuleni.
Little Taégrin was so excited moments before the hijacking, when his mother promised to take him to McDonald’s. He rushed into the car – a white VW Golf 6 – and waited for his mother to strap on his seat belt. His sister Erin, 8, was also in the car.
Chantel was the last to leave the house – her husband Elwin and her sister had just left. She started the car and turned around to strap in her son. As she turned back to face the steering wheel, a gun was pressed against her face.
“Voetsek! voetsek! gaan julle uit die kar uit (Get out of the car)!” two men demanded.
A frightened Chantel frantically tried to get her children out safely.
“I thought it was a joke at first, but reality kicked in and I screamed for Erin to jump out of the car.
“I asked them to let me get my children out. They could take whatever they wanted but please let me have my children. I went to the back to pull out Taégrin,” she said.
As she held her son in her arms, trying to free him from the safety belt, she felt the car start to move.
“I asked them to let me pull my child out because his foot was stuck, but they just sped off and ripped him out of my hands.”
The mother ran after the car, screaming and pleading for her child to be released.
“The child, the child!” people were heard screaming as they ran after the car trying to get it to stop.
A manhunt began as soon as a distraught Chantel told her husband what had happened.
Elwin immediately alerted everyone he could and was soon bombarded with calls about people spotting the car “with something dragging”.
It took about an-hour-and-a-half before the car was found next to an abandoned building in Boksburg – about 4km away.
“By the time we got there, the body was dislocated, it wasn’t a nice scene,” said Elwin.
Through her tears, Chantel said the hardest part for her was that she could not save her child. Their lives have been put on hold until justice is served.
“I have made peace with him being gone. What makes me angry is that I don’t know how he died.I don’t know how long he was dragged for, how many times he was run over, the pain he suffered.”
The mother described Taégrin as a “loving, beautiful child” who crept into everyone’s hearts.
“Whatever they (hijackers) tried to do was fruitless. I don’t have a child today and I can’t hate them because I don’t know them,” she said.
A cousin, Debra Boards, whose daughter Lyrique was at the gate of the house the Morris family was visiting when the hijacking happened, said the family had reason to believe the hijackers knew them.
“How did they know my daughter was deaf? They pointed the gun at her and said she wouldn’t do anything because she was deaf.”
On Sunday, residents gathered at the local community church to discuss the incident and other related crimes in Reiger Park.
Police spokeswoman Colonel Khensani Magoai said no arrests had been made yet.
Meanwhile, the distraught mother of a 6-year-old boy who was kidnapped on Tuesday night during a hijacking in Bronkhorstspruit, east of Pretoria, is pleading with her son’s abductors to release him unharmed.
It has been seven days since Lizzie Phike last saw her son Mongezi.
He was kidnapped when he and his father, Aaron Phike, were driving in a silver grey Nissan Sentra from Bronk-horstspruit to Delmas to fetch some relatives. The car was later found abandoned. “He is an innocent little boy, he does not know anything. We just want him back,” she said.
Phike, who spoke to the Pretoria News at her home, said she has been praying for Mongezi’s safe return.
Father and son were at an intersection in Masada (near Bronk-horstspruit) on Tuesday night, when four men approached them.
After holding them at gunpoint, the assailants tied Aaron’s hands and feet with wire and assaulted him badly, leaving him for dead.
With schools reopening on Monday, Lizzie said it was becoming increasingly difficult to come to terms with her son’s abduction.
Phike received a call from an unknown number on Wednesday evening after news of her son’s disappearance had gone viral, instructing her to collect her child in Leandra, Mpumalanga. “A woman called me and told me to come and fetch my child at a place called Leandra. I told her that I did not know where that place was and she said I was not serious about getting my son back.
“Then she hung up,” she said.
There has since been no information on the boy’s whereabouts.
The mother of three said her husband, who is recovering in hospital, had not come to terms with the kidnapping. “He wants his son back. He even blames himself for the incident.
“Mongezi’s siblings do not want to go to school without him. They keep asking me when he will be back. His older sister, who usually has lunch with him at school, is the one who is mostly affected,” she said.
Neighbours and relatives were gathered at the Phike home on Sunday, keeping vigil for Mongezi’s return.
Pretty Sindane, Mongezi’s cousin, said the family can only pray that Mongezi is returned without being harmed. “We are just wondering what he is eating, what he is feeling, if he is warm and if those people who abducted him are parents themselves because nobody should wish anyone to experience something like this,” Sindane said.
Police spokeswoman Captain Marissa van der Merwe said they were still searching for Mongezi.
On Sunday, President Jacob Zuma added his voice to the search for the boy, calling on the public to help police in their efforts to find the boy.
“We cannot imagine the pain and sorrow that his family is going through,” said Zuma.