“Teacher, teacher – look, it’s a hijacking! Quick, take the number plate.” This warning was sounded by Grade 6 pupils at Laerskool Kwaggasrand in the west of Pretoria moments after three vehicles screeched to a halt outside the school and a small panel van was robbed of its load of cigarettes.
The pupil’s quick reaction in alerting their teacher, and later police, to the crime outside their classroom possibly saved the life of the driver of the panel van.
Still shaken, the driver spoke to the Pretoria News minutes after the robbery.
His name is being withheld.
With tears rolling down his cheeks, he said his life flashed before him when he saw a gun against his window.
“I had just delivered stock to a shop down the road when I saw this man who came in to buy cigarettes. He looked peculiar. Something just did not seem right about him.”
The driver got back into his vehicle and as he was about to reverse, a knock on his window by a barrel of a gun startled him.
“He told me to get out. Another man shoved me into the back of a vehicle and we sped off. I had no idea if they were going to kill me.
“Just around the corner we stopped and they forced me out. The man who was driving my panel van asked me why I was just looking at them as they unloaded the stock into their getaway vehicles and instructed me to help.”
At that stage teachers and pupils alerted police, jotted down number plates, and tried to capture the incident on cellphone cameras.
“When they saw the schoolchildren witnessing everything they left some of the stock and fled in the two vehicles, leaving mine behind.
“When I went to the front seat, I noticed they had left behind a gun and quickly hid it in a box. Seconds later they were back asking for the gun but I said I didn’t see it and they left in a panic.”
Minutes later, police were at the scene and called in the details of the getaway vehicles. Efforts to get comment from the Pretoria Central police spokesperson were fruitless.