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Durban - People in Newlands West, outside Durban, were traumatised after a cleric was hijacked by four armed men outside a mosque on Friday afternoon.

Hafiz Talha Kazi, 27, had just wrapped up his sermon for afternoon prayers at the Musjid Sufi Subhaani.

Witness Ashraf Ahmed said that at about 1.45pm, two men approached and started “manhandling him”.

Kazi was making his way to his car, parked in a bay closest to the road.

“Two guys ran towards him and started manhandling him and that’s when I realised he was being hijacked. I asked him to give the car keys to them and get away from there. However, another two guys came. When I tried to approach, I realised that they had firearms,” said Ahmed.

He said the four men bundled Kazi into the back seat and drove off.

Two men later got out of the car and into another vehicle, which Ahmed assumed was a getaway vehicle.

Ahmed sent out a distress call to WhatsApp community crime groups and less than an hour later, the car was found by police, abandoned in Pinetown, with a traumatised Kazi inside.

SAPS spokesperson Lieutenant- Colonel Thulani Zwane said Kazi was unharmed and that a case of hijacking and kidnapping had been opened.

Family and friends gathered at the police station, waiting for Kazi.

When an emotional Kazi emerged from a police car, he was embraced by his father and his wife, who was carrying their 1-year-old baby.

Saber Jazbhay, a Newlands West resident who has also been a victim of a hijacking, called on the police to increase manpower because the crime in the area was getting out of hand.

“If they do not take this seriously, there will be vigilantism.”

Independent on Saturday