LEBOGANG SEALE

A God-fearing and seemingly caring but gun-toting hijacker and his accomplice held two Soweto women captive for five hours while communicating with a prospective buyer. The hijacker even wished his captive’s son a happy birthday.

Lerato Tlale, 26, of Pimville, was hijacked along with Mpho Hlongwane, of Molapo. They were shoved into the backseat of their car at gunpoint, driven to a secluded area and held captive while their captors stripped off the vehicle’s tracking system. They were then dumped in bushes in the middle of the night.

Tlale, an HR recruitment officer, said she had just parked her new Audi A3 at her mother’s home shortly after 7pm when three armed men confronted her.

“Mpho was unlocking the gate and I was on the phone when three guys approached us. They grabbed my keys and pushed us into the backseat,” said Tlale.

Terrified, the pair started screaming. This prompted their assailants to fire shots in the air, sending the neighbours scurrying for cover. The men, she said, drove off at such high speed that they nearly hit another car.

“They ordered us to bow our heads. They kept saying that they didn’t want to rape or kill us. They said they only wanted our car…

“The one guy told the driver to slow down as people might (be suspicious). I stole a quick glance outside and thought we were travelling along the N12 towards Potchefstroom.”

A few minutes later, she added, one of the men said they would stop somewhere to remove the tracking system.

Tlale and Hlongwane were then dropped off in the veld, under the guard of one of the hijackers. The man escorted them to a bushy area about 100m away from the main road.

“As we walked, he kept talking to me. He enquired about my daughter, who turns one year next week. He wished her a happy birthday. He even spoke about his family and why he was doing it (the hijacking).

“He said it was because his parents didn’t take him to school and he didn’t find a job. He kept saying he feared God,” Tlale recalled.

Once at the bushy spot, she added, the man ordered them to sit down and not “do anything stupid like screaming”.

“Each time he said this, he would cock his gun. He kept receiving phone calls from the other guys. They said they had removed the first tracking device.

“The second call came in. They said they had removed the second device and were still struggling with the third. The guy looked at his watch. He said he was getting anxious,” Tlale said.

“He phoned a guy called Gert and told him ‘we got the package’, but were still busy with the (removing of) the third tracking device. It was getting freezing and we were very cold.”

Soon thereafter, she said, a VW Polo was dispatched to take them to another bushy area – this time near an industrial area. There, the hijackers kept arguing whether to rob the women of their cellphones, wallets and a laptop.

“The one guy asked for my banking card’s pin code, but the other one refused. He said that was not part of the plan.”

Tlale said it was only at about midnight when they were eventually dropped off along the Golden highway in Lehae, near Lenasia, south of Joburg. A motorist offered them a lift and took them to the Kliptown police station.

“I was so terrified, but remained calm and complied with their orders. It was only after they had dropped us off that I started crying and shaking,” she said.

Tlale said she suspected that the hijackers might have received tips from the company that installed the tracking devices on how to tamper with the system.