Pretoria - A courier van was hijacked in Laudium on Wednesday morning, sparking off a chain of events that culminated in police shooting at a man enjoying the company of an alleged sex worker in the hills along the R511.
The van was hijacked by two men at an intersection soon after it had delivered a stove to the upmarket Claudius Gardens in Laudium.
The hijackers – driving a white Ford Focus and posing as police officers - flashed a blue light and forced the driver to stop.
Two men jumped out of the car and pointed guns at the driver. They got inside the van, and directed the man to drive on the R511. The driver told police he was told to drive off the main road and up into the hills.
“They ordered me to stop, covered my head with my jacket and took me to a secluded spot up in the hills where two other men were waiting. They searched the car and took cosmetics, medicines as well as my cellphone and money,” he said.
“I was then instructed to get in the van and drive off. As soon as I got to the main road, I phoned my employer in Edenvale using my second phone, which the hijackers did not see. My bosses alerted the car tracking company and they told me to park on the roadside.”
What followed was stuff movie-makers could only dream of.
As the sun bathed the hills, tracking company response vehicles ascended, following instructions from the driver who had seen a white car driving up the hill. But in his shocked state, the driver did not see that the car was a Volkswagen Polo, and not the Ford Focus driven by his attackers in Laudium.
“As soon as the response team arrived in the bushes, the occupants of the car - a man and a woman - jumped out and fled. The response team opened fire, but luckily no one was injured,” police spokesman Captain Thomas Mufamadi said.
The young woman, believed to be a prostitute, was injured in the leg while trying to run away, while the man ran for his life and hid by a nearby river. He later came out, hands in the air, when police in a helicopter cornered him.
The woman was arrested.
It appeared the two sneaked into the hills for sexual pleasure but fell victim to mistaken identity.
Police and crime scene experts spread along the road and across the hills for most of the afternoon, trying to put together the pieces of what had happened.
Mufamadi said areas along the R511 were dangerous and urged motorists not to pick up hitch-hikers. “The prostitutes in neighbouring areas are part of a syndicate, and the moment a motorists is led to areas such as these hills, he becomes easy pickings. People should avoid picking up anyone on this road.”