Durban - Shriah Nair listened, in horror, to her seven-month-old baby girl cry as hijackers drove off with the infant on Tuesday afternoon.
“I thought I would never see her again,” the 26-year-old mother said of her only child, Azaria, on Thursday.
She was speaking from her Glenwood flat two days after the ordeal, which saw the baby being safely returned after she was found by a passing motorist, Erik Bredberg, still in her car seat, in the middle of a road in Westridge.
Nair was hijacked outside the Glenwood Village Centre at 4pm. The assailants sped off before Azaria could be removed from the car.
“Her middle name is Grace,” Shriah, a devout Christian, said on Thursday, “and I truly believe it was by the grace of God that my baby was brought back to me.”
She was on her way home and had stopped at the shopping centre, parking in Hunt Road. As she opened the door to her white BMW 320i, a man approached her. “I looked to the other side and saw another man walking towards the car with a gun,” she said.
When they asked Shriah for the keys she obliged. They then asked for her cellphone.
One of the men snatched the bag from her arm as he jumped into the passenger seat, while the other got into the driver’s seat.
Azaria was in the back of the car, but her mother could not open the door because it was locked from the inside.
“I hung on to the car for as long as I could,” said Shriah, “And then I ran after it.” But the driver skipped a red robot and disappeared.
Shriah described the next half hour as the worst of her life. “I was screaming, but no-one stopped to help.”
A man, known as Steve, finally came to her aid, alerting the police and taking Shriah back to the crime scene.
Shriah’s husband of five years, Jonathan, 29, was at work. “It was Steve who phoned me to tell me Shriah had been hijacked,” he said.
“I kept asking about Azaria, but he would not tell me what happened, he did not want me to panic.”
Jonathan raced to his wife’s side and was greeted with good news: Azaria had been found, unharmed. Bredberg later told the couple when he picked her up she had woken and smiled at him. He took Azaria to the Mayville police station.
Police spokesman Vincent Mdunge said no arrests had been made.