Durban - An Empangeni firearms instructor risked his life exchanging gunfire with armed hijackers, possibly saving the life of his neighbours who had been cornered by the hijackers.

Sean King, from Guns Inc, said he was about to enter his home on Thursday night when he saw his neighbour coming under attack from three men who were trying to steal his bakkie.

They had pulled the neighbour out of the vehicle and wrestled him to the ground.

“He (the neigbhour) had just passed me at an intersection about five minutes before, so I knew he was with his family in the car,” said King.

“As I drove into my driveway I saw what was happening and started shouting at them. I was also walking towards them and I as I approached, a gun went off.

“I knew that if I ran back to my driveway, my back would be to them as I waited for my gate to open. They fired three times before I drew my firearm and started shooting at them. I was standing in the middle of the road with no cover,” said King.

“I thought if I engaged once they would run away, but that did not happen, they started engaging.”

He said the hijackers continued firing as they reversed into the road.

“I thought they had fired at least eight times but I am not sure because neighbours said more than those shots had been fired.

“I thought this is it, I am going to die here today. I am an ex-police officer and an advanced instructor in self-defence, and I can tell you, shooting at the range and in real life are two very different things.”

King said he was happy his neighbour had escaped with only an injury to his leg.

“Before he was taken by the ambulance he thanked me, and they have been updating me about what is happening.The children are fine, but I think he, his wife and the other woman who was in the car still have a long way to go... it was traumatic for them.”

Attempts to speak to the victims were unsuccessful on Tuesday.

Police spokeswoman Captain Nqobile Gwala said a case of attempted carjacking was being investigated by Empangeni SAPS. She said the suspects had fled and investigations were continuing.

The Mercury