Durban - A botched hijacking on Saturday has left a La Lucia model aircraft enthusiast in critical condition in hospital.
George Geyser, 73, was leaving an airfield near Hazelmere Dam, Verulam, which is used to fly model aircraft, when he saw a branch blocking the gravel utility road.
When he stopped his vehicle he was ambushed by an unknown number of suspects.
Prem Balram, whose security company, Reaction Unit South Africa (Rusa), received the call for help, said the driver drove through the barricade and was fired upon by the suspects.
“The victim was struck twice in his right arm,” Balram said.
“He continued to drive until he reached the main road, where he lost control of his vehicle and hit a light pole before crashing into a tree.”
By this time the suspects had fled. Balram said a passerby noticed Geyser slumped in his vehicle and contacted his company.
He said Rusa officers and paramedics were dispatched and found Geyser unconscious, due to severe blood loss.
“The vehicle had to be lifted by a tow truck to allow medics to gain access to the vehicle. The victim was stabilised and transported to a hospital in critical condition.”
George’s wife, Wilma Geyser, 70, said he was in a lot of pain and medicated. “He still has the two bullets lodged in his arm and the upper arm bone, according to the doctors, has been totally shattered.”
She said her husband would be examined by an orthopaedic surgeon at eThekwini Hospital, and would probably have surgery by Wednesday.
“He has never been a victim of crime in this area before and he went to the airfield every weekend for almost five years,” Wilma said.
The couple own and operate a shoe factory in Phoenix.
The uMhlanga Model Fliers Club has been using the field for five years, but Geyser has been a model plane hobbyist for 15 years.
Wilma said about a month ago her husband saw rocks on the road and thought it strange. “He told the other members of the flying club to be vigilant.”
The club’s safety officer, Peter Wilson, said Geyser had been on his way home after a few hours of flying his model planes.
“We all often use the gravel road George was using. It’s about a 4km stretch from the airfield on that road to the tarred road.”
He said it was the first time an incident of this nature had taken place.
“It’s usually quite busy. There are sand trucks going down that way as well as minibus taxis.
“This incident must have been planned,” said Wilson.
Meanwhile, Phyll Geyser, a relative of the victim, took to Rusa’s Facebook page to thank the company.
“On behalf of all the family members of George who was shot in the failed hijacking, I wish to say a big THANK YOU… for your quick reaction and assistance. Without your immediate care and assistance, he most definitely would not have made it. We are extremely grateful to you and appreciate your dedication to duty.”
Police spokesman, Colonel Jay Naicker, confirmed that a case of attempted hijacking was being investigated by Verulam SAPS. He said no arrests had been made and that investigations were continuing.