Durban - When a New Germany mother found herself staring down the barrel of a hijacker’s firearm, her survival instinct – and military training – kicked in, helping her to scare off her four attackers.
“I could see it in his eyes. He was ready to shoot to kill.
“He was aiming at my head, in my face,” Marietjie Grant, 38, said on Thursday night.
Her brush with death happened in front of a friend’s home in Pinetown on Wednesday afternoon.
Grant, a debtor’s clerk in Westmead, had gone to fetch her son, Ian, 15, from the house in Frara Street at 4pm.
The former military policewoman of four years, had parked her silver Mazda 2 in front of the gate.
She noticed in her rear-view mirror a black Toyota Yaris stopping on the other side of the road.
“I took out my phone to let my son know that I was outside. Not thinking, I unlocked the doors.”
Three men got out of the Yaris while a fourth rushed to the driver’s side of the Mazda, armed with a 9mm calibre firearm.
Grant said she saw the man approaching the vehicle in the driver’s side mirror.
“That’s when I saw the firearm, and I locked my doors,” she said. “But I didn’t notice that my window was slightly open. So he forced the window down and pushed his left arm in to get my keys out of the ignition.”
The other two men were trying to get the passenger side front and back doors open.”
Grant, who is also adept in several forms of martial arts, said she managed to close the window and pin the hijacker’s arm in its frame.
“I think that’s when he started panicking and getting a little angry with me so he raised his right arm to my window.”
Grant then found herself staring down the barrel of the gun.
“The car was still idling. I put it in reverse. I had to draw these men away from the house, from my child,” she said.
A single shot went off but, because of the car’s movement, the bullet somehow ended up lodged in the door.
“I was not injured. I was definitely protected by a guardian angel,” Grant said.
She managed to spin the car around so the back faced the house.
“I don’t know when it happened but the man somehow got loose and went flying.”
The men all fled to their car and drove off.
Grant drove away from them in the opposite direction, but returned to the house later. Her friend, Vanessa van Huizen, notified their security company, the police and the neighbourhood watch.
Grant said she later learnt that her son had been watching the terrifying ordeal from the house, powerless to stop it.
It was the first time Grant had been trying out the arrangement of picking up her son from the friend’s house.
“It’s not like I have a routine and they followed me.
“I was randomly selected. I was in the wrong place.”
Grant said her military training had proven invaluable, resulting in her quick reaction time.
“But still, when I got out of the car, my legs gave out under me. I was hyperventilating. It was scary.”
She thanked the police, the Pine-Ridge Neighbourhood Watch and the security company for their help.
“It just wasn’t my time yet, and I get to let others know that,” Grant said.
“I appreciate life now each second of the day and so should others.”
Her warning to others?
“If you thought that it could never happen to you, think again.”
Dylan Jenkins, chairman of the Pine-Ridge Neighbourhood Watch, said the group dealt with one or two hijackings every month in the Highway area.
“What is concerning, however, is that the attacks are getting earlier. It’s a very uncommon time.”
He said the hijackings normally took place between 6pm and 8pm.
“We have begun monitoring and patrolling the area at these times and hopefully we will avoid more attacks.
“We also encourage people to be more vigilant.”
He said that while police were often criticised, the Pinetown police had arrived at the scene in about four minutes.
“They do a good job in keeping the area safe.”
Jenkins suspected that motorists were being targeted because home security had made it harder to enter properties.