Cape Town - At a glance, they looked like a couple having an argument. Then a city law enforcement officer realised the woman was looking straight at him and silently mouthing the words “help me, help me”.
The man and woman in the Smart Car were not a couple – they were a hijacker and his terrified victim who had been abducted from her workplace.
Officer Bonga Mawela was on patrol in Wolfgat, near Mitchell’s Plain, early on Friday morning when he saw the pair. He assumed they were a couple who had been arguing.
The man came towards Mawela and asked him if the area he was parked in was safe. Before Mawela could answer him, he noticed the woman with him was close to tears, and silently mouthing words at him.
“The car was parked and they were both standing outside it… then she mouthed “help me, help me”, and looked like she wanted to cry.
“I told her to get into the back of the patrol car,” said Mawela.
The hijacker, probably noting Mawela’s confusion, tried to continue the ruse that he and his victim were a couple. Mawela said the hijacker behaved as though he and the woman had been having a disagreement.
The hijacker said to the woman: “Why are you doing this to me?”
The woman got into the patrol car and pleaded with Mawela to drive.
“I was still a bit confused, because I thought they were a couple who were in love, but she kept telling me to drive, and I was still trying to understand what had happened.”
“She kept telling me to drive, but I asked her what about her car and she said the car doesn’t matter.”
Mawela called for back-up and met fellow officers on Baden Powell Drive.
The hijacker, who was driving behind him and the woman, was arrested and taken to Mitchell’s Plain police station.
The woman, a financial manager identified only as a Mrs Van Wyk, said Mawela had saved her life.
She said she had arrived for her early shift at work when she was hijacked at gunpoint and driven to several locations, including a drug house.
“People say I am a hero,” said Mawela, “but I was just doing my job.”