Durban - Three robbers dressed in school uniform hijacked a young Phoenix motorist on Tuesday, allegedly firing shots at him.
Minutes later the hijackers crashed the VW Polo, which landed on its side. Two suspects ran away, but a 20-year-old was arrested.
The drama unfolded when Klinsmann Naidoo, 18, stopped outside a friend’s home in Cardham Drive just after 2pm.
Vincent Naidoo said his son, Klinsmann, was still in shock. He said the robbers approached his son on either side of the car. One of them broke the window, got into the car and forced Naidoo out.
Klinsmann was stunned and stood on the pavement next to the car. The hijacker in the passenger seat placed the gun on the roof of the car and fired a few rounds, his father said.
“When I heard of the incident I feared the worst but luckily he was not harmed.”
Police spokesman, Colonel Jay Naicker, said Naidoo was seated in his Polo when three suspects walked up to him with guns. They pulled him out of the car and got in.
“The hijackers allegedly fired several gunshots but no injuries were sustained by the victim,” Naicker said.
The robbers drove along Crestbrook Drive into Palmview Drive towards the bottom end of JG Champion (Northern) Drive.
Witnesses said the Polo was travelling at a high speed. It clipped the side of a Toyota Yaris travelling in the opposite direction at the intersection with Canterpalm Road.
The Polo flipped and landed on its passenger side. One suspect was still trying to get out when he was arrested.
The other two had fled towards the Ottawa/Parkgate area through a nature reserve, said residents.
A Phoenix resident, who gave her name as Sarika, said she heard a screeching sound and a loud bang.
When she peered out of her window, she saw a schoolboy running into the bushes alongside Palmview Road, she said.
Ward 52 councillor, Bradley Singh, said he was told that the hijackers were in school uniform. But he did not want to speculate on which school they attended until he had checked out the claims, he said.
“It is an absolute shock to hear about schoolboys involved in hijackings,” he said, adding that if the hijackers were from local schools in the area “we will contact their families and take disciplinary action”.
DA MP Dianne Kohler Barnard, the party’s spokeswoman on policing, said last night that criminals were disguising themselves as police and now schoolchildren, to lull people into a sense of false security.
She urged people to be more vigilant. But if the hijackers were indeed school pupils, their parents needed to be held responsible, she said.
“Parents need their children to account for every hour of the day. One has to ask: do their parents have an idea what they are doing after school?
“It is not the school’s or the police’s responsibility,” Kohler Barnard said.
“Now a person is traumatised, a car is crashed, and one man is under arrest. His future is bleak as he will end this episode with a criminal record that will follow him through life,” she said.
A case of carjacking has been opened for investigation by the Phoenix SAPS.
Prem Balram of local security company Reaction Unit South Africa said he had flown over the area in a helicopter to try to catch the fleeing suspects while the police K9 unit did a ground sweep of the bushes alongside. Balram said the fleeing suspects were not found despite an intensive search.
Onlookers gathered around the police van and appeared hostile to the arrested suspect.
Some school pupils tried to peer inside the van but police ushered them away.