The affordable education loan option
Durban - Years of counselling, family support and dedication to her work have kept Dhanaselvie Naidu upbeat, despite being the victim of eight hijackings and numerous muggings.
The 40-year-old nursing sister at RK Khan Hospital said she was now considering leaving her home country for Australia to escape the crime, after the latest incident last week.
“My son wants to go to New Zealand. We just want to go somewhere where we’re not affected by the crime,” she said.
On Wednesday, Naidu was taken by two men weilding knives, from Chatsworth Centre. She was placed in the boot of the car after hijackers requested her banking PIN, and driven around for two hours before the car stopped. She then managed to hit one of the hijackers with a wheel spanner, causing them to flee.
Naidu, who has limited vision in her right eye, recalled her first harrowing experience 14 years ago when she was seven months pregnant with her son, Ashnil Singh.
“I was living in Mariannhill and was leaving Chatsworth, on the on-ramp to Higginson Highway near the Hare Krishna Temple,” she said. “A car stopped and I stopped behind it. Another pulled up behind me and two men jumped out the front (car) and two out the back. All four had guns.
“They had told me to get out or they would shoot me. I remembered my dad saying if someone tries to hijack you, just give them the keys, so I left the key in the ignition and got out. I think being pregnant saved my life because I didn’t try to fight them off.”
The men got away with her Toyota Conquest, which was never recovered.
Naidu said at first she was afraid to drive again, but she has realised she cannot be crippled by fear, something she feels that counselling and talking about, helps with.
Of the eight incidents, hijackers managed to take Naidu’s car four times, although two cars were recovered – one car was recovered twice. In the majority of the incidents, the perpetrators had knives – besides the first incident in 1999 when they had guns, and the third, when they had a cricket bat.
Besides the hijacking, Naidu has had her car, a Hyundai Getz, stolen from the parking lot at work. The same Getz was stolen from her in a hijacking around 2006, recovered a few days later, and was almost stolen again in 2007 near St John’s off-ramp on the M13 in another hijacking attempt. Naidu said she had also been the victim of about 10 muggings, leaving her about R20 000 poorer and emotionally scarred.
Despite reporting six of the eight hijackings and a number of the muggings, Naidu said no arrests had been made, although she felt the police had been helpful and were often under-resourced.
“The police do what they can, but often their hands are tied,” she said.
“I think also because of my eyesight, I can’t always give a good description of the people and they depend on the information I give.”
As well as an eye condition, Naidu also suffers from asthma. During an attempted hijacking in 2003 or 2004, Naidu was driving her Ford station wagon along the Shallcross link road to the RK Khan Hospital when two men jumped into her car while she had stopped at a red robot.
“They broke the window with a cricket bat and one of the men kept hitting me with the bat to keep me driving,” she said.
They stopped in Isipingo, where they pulled Naidu out the car, yet she had the keyring wrapped on her finger and they could not get it off.
“They kept hitting me with the bat and I had a terrible asthma attack,” she said. “They thought I was going to die, so they left me with the car.”
Naidu managed to drive home where her partner, Anil Singh, met her and took her to hospital.
However, Naidu said the worst incident was the first of two hijackings in 2010.
Driving out of the Chatsworth Centre, Naidu had stopped at a stop street when someone broke her back window and two men got in.
“They pushed me to the back, they both had knives.
“One drove while the other stabbed me,” she said. “He was asking for money, but I said I didn’t have any.”
The men drove her to an ATM in the uMhlali area, where they withdrew R2 000 from her bank account, leaving her on the side of the road.
She said she had been stabbed numerous times. However, the wounds were all superficial.
She then managed to flag down a security guard. who called Singh. and they went to the police station.
“That car was found in the bush a few hours later. The police said they would have to open a case of hijacking and impound the vehicle.”
Naidu said that having to recover her Hyundai Getz from the pound meant taking a day off work, not to mention the cost involved in re-registering the car, so it put her off laying charges.
For the same reason, she said, she would not be laying charges for Wednesday’s hijacking from Chatsworth Centre.
Naidu said all her vehicles had been insured by Singh. However, often she had not claimed because of the cost of the excess.
“Our premiums have gone up. The only time insurance wouldn’t pay was for the Tata (stolen in April 2010 and recovered four months later) because they thought I was just trying to get money,” she said.
She said she had lost thousands of rand being the victim of crime, had watched her family suffer from the trauma and she was now having nightmares about being trapped in a boot.
“I thank God I’m still alive and my son was never with me. I have not left South Africa before because my elderly parents and my aunt lived with me, but now they are gone, there is nothing holding me back.”
1999: Toyota Conquest taken from Chatsworth by four men armed with guns. Valuables taken included her handbag. Case opened.
2001: Naidu accosted by man with knife at Pinetown ATM. Taken in car, Opel Cub, to Clermont where man fled. Car left behind but R3 000 taken. Charges laid.
2003/2004: Attempted hijacking of Ford station wagon in Shallcross. Naidu taken by two men with cricket bat to Isipingo, where men tried to force her out of car. She suffered asthma attack and they fled without the car. Nothing taken, charges laid.
2006: Hijacking of Hyundai Getz in Shallcross by three men with knives at a three-way stop. Men jumped into car and drove Naidu to Phoenix, where they pushed her out. Car and handbag taken. Charges laid and car recovered a few days later.
2007: Attempted hijacking of same Hyundai Getz near St John’s off-ramp by two men with knives. Naidu lost control of vehicle, driving into barrier a few minutes later, and men fled. Charges laid.
2008/2009: Hyundai Getz stolen from parking lot at RK Khan Hospital. Charges laid.
2010 (April): Hijacking of Tata from Chatsworth by two men with knives. One man stabbed Naidu, asking for money. Stopped in uMhlali, where they withdrew R2 000 from her bank account and left her at roadside. Car recovered a few hours later but Naidu declined to lay charges because car would have been impounded.
2010 (August/September): Hijacking of Tata from St John’s off-ramp again by two men with knives. Charges laid and car recovered in September last year after driver hit a wall in Chatsworth.
2013: Attempted hijacking of Hyundai Accent from Chatsworth Centre by two men with knives. Hijackers asked for bank PIN and placed Naidu in boot.
She managed to send SMS to her husband, and hit one of the hijackers with a wheel spanner when they stopped. Hijackers fled with R3 600 but left the car.