Johannesburg - Phillip Ganja was still wearing the shoes his armed kidnappers had given him – a pair of black Hi-Tec sandals they put on him at a house in Alexandra.
They told him they needed him to look “nice” when he went to the bank to get their money.
They dusted off the dirt that had got onto his clothes after they had pushed him to the ground, and gave him a glass of water.
They told him to smile.
But all the while there were guns pointed at his head and threats to shoot his brother, who they had also kidnapped, if Ganja did not co-operate and get them the money they wanted.
Ganja’s ordeal began around 10.30am on Thursday on a busy street in Glenanda, Joburg, when he was attacked and kidnapped outside his house.
The comic, who has appeared on Late Night News with Loyiso Gola, had gone to The Glen, his local mall, and withdrew R5 000 from the ATM, which he then sent off in a money transfer, before going to Fruit & Veg City and getting some petrol.
His brother, Charles Nsubuga, was with him in the car at the time.
At mid-morning, they pulled into the driveway of Ganja’s house.
“When I looked in the mirror at the back I saw a car,” said Ganja.
A white bakkie had blocked them in the driveway.
Moments later, two men wielding guns pulled Ganja and Nsubuga from their car and pinned them to the ground. “It was a terrible scene,” said Ganja.
They were ordered to sit in the back of the car and put their heads down, while one man drove Ganja’s BMW and the other kept a gun pointed at them.
The robber demanded Ganja’s PIN code and asked how much money he had on him.
“That’s when I realised they had been following me,” he said.
All the while, the robbers were taking phone calls from their partners in other cars. Ganja said he believed these cars were there as back-up and to look out for police.
When they discovered Ganja had no money on him, they raced in his car to Alexandra.
Ganja tried to stay calm, telling his attackers he would take them for a drink if he ever saw them again.
The robbers took Ganja and Nsubuga to a house in Alexandra and prepared them to go to the bank.
“They told me ‘How are you going to sign in the bank when you are scared?’,” said Ganja.
He needed to calm down.
The first bank in Alexandra did not keep enough money on site to give him the R30 000 the thieves wanted.
“They told me ‘If you think you are clever, we are going to shoot (your brother)’,” said Ganja.
The robbers were already planning a party. They made calls to their girlfriends to tell them they had groceries – which they had stolen from Ganja – and made a stop at a shop to buy condoms.
“Gently, gently they are driving my car and we are passing cops, but they can’t see the guns,” he said.
By the time Ganja got inside the second bank the robbers took him to, in the Balfour Park shopping centre, he was crying.
“The lady in the bank said to me ‘What’s wrong?’. I said ‘I’ve got family problems’.”
The bank gave him R25 000.
When the robbers dropped Ganja, Nsubuga and the car on a side street near Balfour Park, it was almost 5pm – six hours since the robbers had snatched the brothers.
“If you are alive, you have to take it,” a relieved Ganja said at his home later.
Police spokeswoman Constable Sibongile Mnguni confirmed that a case of kidnapping and armed robbery had been opened.