Durban - Despite being shot twice in a botched hijacking, model aircraft hobbyist George Geyser is confident he will be flying high soon.
Geyser, 73, was left in a critical condition after being shot near Verulam.
He had been leaving an airfield - used to fly model aircraft in Hazelmere on May 31, when he noticed large branches blocking the road.
Geyser drove through the blockade, but his attackers opened fire and he was shot twice in his right arm.
One bullet, which penetrated his upper arm, shattered his shoulder into four pieces.
The other entered his lower arm and became lodged near his wrist.
“It must have been about 11am when I decided to pack up from the airfield and go home. I had easily been there hundreds of times by myself and had no problems. I always said hello, so that the people who lived in the area would recognise me.”
Geyser’s club, the uMhlanga Model Fliers Club, has been using the field for five years, but he had been a model planes hobbyist for 15 years.
He had been using his white Mercedes-Benz stationwagon to drive to the air field on a gravel road, which he described as full of “twists and turns”.
The La Lucia man, who owns and operates a dancing-shoe factory in Phoenix Industrial Park nearby, said that when he used the 4km-stretch of road, he often chatted to the local children returning from school.
“I would compliment them on their nice uniforms and tell them how important it was to stay in school, that what you learn can never be taken away from you.”
He said other hobbyists and the residents in the area had a good relationship.
“If there was a funeral, they’d ask us to fly on the other side of the airfield so that we would not disturb them. We always obliged.”
It was for this reason that when he saw the barricade and the men loitering around it that he did not at first feel threatened.
“I had my window open and I was going to talk to them, greet them. I thought they would move it.”
But when they made no movement towards the barricade, he became suspicious.
“That’s when I decided to floor it (the accelerator) and just go.”
And that was when the men opened fire on him, he said.
“I felt the bullets entering my arm, but kept going.”
Despite being hit twice and bleeding heavily, Geyser sped to the main road, where his car hit a pole and a tree.
He was assisted by members of Reaction Unit SA. His vehicle was written off.
Geyser underwent surgery to remove the bullets and will be receiving physiotherapy and counselling.
“My mind still has not adjusted to what’s happened,” he said.
“I’m not blaming anyone and I hold no grudges..”
He lauded Reaction Unit SA for the assistance and quick reaction of its staff.
“I’m healing well and I think I’ll need another month before I’m fully recovered,” he said.
“It’s hard for me to get comfortable because I can only sleep on my back or on the other side. I also need someone to help cover me.”
George’s wife Wilma, 70, said that he had improved every day.
“When he first came home, his legs were wobbly, but now he can go up and down the stairs by himself”.
No arrests have been made.