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Pretoria - “Take the car, my phone, wallet, whatever you want, please just don’t hurt me…” This was the desperate plea of a University of Pretoria student. It was ignored by three heavily armed hijackers, dressed in full police uniform.
After shoving him into the back of their vehicle, one of the hijackers sat on top of the student and assaulted him.
He tied his hands with cable ties, covered his face with a jacket and told him he would remain with them until they managed to get rid of the tracking device on his Golf 6 GTI.
Despite reporting the vehicle stolen on Monday at 11pm, a notice for the vehicle was only sent out at 3pm on Tuesday, leaving the student and his mother infuriated.
For almost two hours the student, who asked that his name be withheld, was driven around the city. When the car eventually came to a stop, he was taken out of the car, the cable ties cut loose, and told to run into the bush and to not look back. The sound of a gun being cocked had him wondering if he was going to be shot.
The student left his house in Centurion to go to a gym close to Mall@Reds, on Monday evening.
“I stopped at the garage. As I drove out, I noticed a baby blue Toyota Corolla, but didn’t pay much attention to it. I had to make a U-turn and stopped on an island. All of a sudden I saw blue lights behind me. I rolled down my window.”
Two men, brandishing rifles, dressed in full police uniform and bullet proof vests, approached him, he said. The blue Toyota Corolla was parked behind him with a blue light flashing on the dashboard.
“The man at my window asked me why I was turning there. But before I could respond he took my car keys out of the ignition. He told me to get out of the car because they had to take me to the station.”
The student kept on asking what was going on. When the other man jumped into his vehicle and drove off, he knew the men pretending to be police officers were hijackers.
“The one who pulled me out of the car, pulled me to the side of the road, I told him they could take anything they wanted but just leave me, but he said they had to take me to the station. The blue car pulled up next to me. I was thrown in the back seat, assaulted and tied up.”
He was driven around the city for almost two hours and was eventually set free by the hijackers.
“When I heard that gun click I just kept running. I had no idea where I was. I ran towards houses. There a man called my parents.”
The student and his mother went to the Pretoria West police station where they reported the car stolen. They were told they would receive a case number via SMS within 12 hours. They believed a notice had been circulated that the car had been stolen and that the police were keeping a lookout for the vehicle.
But on Tuesday morning, the student and his mother learnt the vehicle had not been flagged as stolen on any database.
On Tuesday afternoon, at the Pretoria West police station, they learnt for the first time that the police system was down and the notice of a vehicle having been stolen had not yet been circulated.
Acting station commander, a Colonel Zwane, said the vehicle was indeed only registered as stolen at 3pm.
“The… system had been down since the previous day. If the system is down you cannot register a case or circulate a vehicle as stolen.”
Zwane said normal procedure was that a lookout for the vehicle would be broadcast on the police radio system immediately it was reported.
“I was not at the station on the evening they reported it, so I can’t say if it was done or not.”
The student’s mother said she was appalled at the SAPS service.
“Many hours after the car was stolen it’s still not on the system. My car could be across the border already. This is not acceptable.”