Durban - A hijack victim who was shot in the face at point-blank range told on Wednesday night how he narrowly escaped with his life as the bullet exited just 5mm from an artery in his neck.
Andre Rhoodie, 44, of Benoni, was driving in South Coast Road, Mobeni, at about 6.20am on Wednesday, when he was attacked by two gunmen.
As he slowed to turn into the driveway of a Hyundai car dealership, the gunmen approached his car.
Within seconds, one smashed the driver’s side window with his gun and shot Rhoodie in the face.
He managed to stumble out of the vehicle and as he tried to flee, the robber shot him again, this time in the stomach.
The men then made their getaway in his white Hyundai.
Speaking from his hospital bed in Durban before going into theatre for surgery, the shaken father of two described his near death experience.
“As I slowed down to enter the driveway of the premises, I saw a shadow on my right. Within a split second I saw my driver’s side window shatter. As the glass burst, I was startled.
“The robber used the butt of the gun to shatter the window and before I knew it, he had opened fire on me,” said Rhoodie, who had difficulty speaking because of his facial wound.
“I managed to stumble out of the car and tried to get away. The gunman shot me again in my stomach. I fell to the ground in agony but was conscious all the time. They then drove off. Everything happened within a minute,” he said.
An employee of the dealership, who did not want to be named, said she was first on the scene to find Rhoodie lying on the ground covered in blood.
“I was numb from what I saw and just acted on adrenalin. I called for an ambulance and the police. I ran into the dealership and brought him a thermal/shock blanket. I kept comforting him and told him the ambulance was on its way. He looked very dazed,” she said.
Rhoodie took his cellphone and asked her to call his wife to break the news.
“His wife was hysterical when I called and told her what happened.
“I had to keep calming her down and kept assuring her that her husband was fine and that he would pull through.
“His speech was limited and I felt so emotional at the time,” she said.
The left side of Rhoodie’s chin and right side of his neck were covered with dressings before his surgery on Wednesday, marking the entry and exit wounds.
He said the doctor told him it was a miracle he had survived.
“The doctor’s report reflects the exit wound of the bullet being 5mm away from the main artery in my neck. They have done X-rays and fortunately, the second bullet didn’t lodge in my stomach,” he said.
“I am under a lot of anaesthetic and pain at the moment. I pray that the surgery goes well.”
Rhoodie, whose wife flew from Johannesburg to be at his side, said the hijackers’ intention was to kill him.
Although he had travelled extensively throughout the country on business, this was the first time something like this had happened to him, he said. He was hopeful that being fit, strong and in good health would help with his recovery.
Police spokesman, Captain Thulani Zwane, said a case of hijacking and attempted murder was being investigated.
Meanwhile, a police source working closely with hijacking cases in the Durban South region, has expressed concern about the recent spate of hijackings.
“There is a huge problem in the South region. From between 5am and 10pm, there are at least two vehicles a day being hijacked. A number of these cars are being recovered in uMlazi. There is a high rate of recovery of the vehicles.”
The source said the criminals’ modus operandi was to hijack the vehicles, strip the inside panels to locate the tracker, abandon the vehicles in what is commonly referred to as the “cooling off” period, and if the vehicles were not recovered by police, they would then take them to their required destinations.
In a separate incident this week, Rajen Vello Govender, 42, was shot dead while travelling south on the N2. The eMkhomazi businessman was found slumped in his black Lexus car near Prospecton on Tuesday.
Police said the circumstances surrounding Govender’s death were being investigated.