The car in which siblings Aamina Haffejee, 16, and her brother, Abdur Raheem, 7, were traveling when a boulder smashed through the windscreen, killing them both. Picture : IPSS Medical Rescue
Durban - A robbery tactic that made its deadly debut in the early 2000s on KwaZulu-Natal roads has re-emerged - the throwing of rocks and even boulders off bridges on to vehicles below.

This time, ruthless and cold-blooded highway robbers are using it with no fear of being caught, placing unsuspecting motorists in danger of serious injury and death.

Following last Wednesday’s incident in which two young siblings were killed after a boulder was thrown from an overhead bridge while they were travelling on the N2 near Ballito, terrified motorists have spoken about their “hell run” ordeals on the roads. In recent weeks there have been several rock-throwing incidents in and around Durban.

Joy Pillay, 53, of Moorton, Chatsworth, said she was returning home in the early hours of Saturday morning when a group of men threw stones on to her brother’s car.

“My brother and sister-in-law were dropping me off at home after a family function," she said. "As we approached the Croftdene off-ramp, I noticed a red Golf in front of us.

'Loud bangs'

“The driver was swerving and we automatically thought the person was drunk until we heard loud bangs against the car. My brother was about to stop when I noticed three men standing at the side of the road. I instructed him to continue driving until we got to a safe place.”

The car, she said, was dented.

“I believe they were waiting to either hijack or rob us.”

Several others, said Pillay, suffered a similar fate.

“We always hear of these kinds of incidents and brush it off but we need to be more alert and use small safety tips.”

On social media, users have been advised to keep a watch for any activity on overhead bridges and to also switch lanes at the last minute, when it is safe to do so, to avoid any rocks that might be thrown.

Killed instantly

Over the years, several motorists have died after the vehicles in which they were travelling were hit by rocks. In December 2002, Karin Jacobs was travelling with her husband Christopher along the N2 from Margate to Johannesburg when a 10kg rock was thrown through the front windscreen of their car.

Karin died instantly when the rock, which was hurled off a bridge near Umgababa, smashed into her face.

In the latest killings, Aamina Haffejee, 16, of Vereeniging, was on holiday with her husband, Muhammad Mohamed, and was travelling with her brother, Abdur Raheem, 7, of uMhlanga, to visit family in KwaDukuza (Stanger) when a boulder slammed on to the front of the car, smashing through the windscreen.

Aamina, who was in the front seat, and her brother, who was seated behind her, were crushed. Mohamed drove to a nearby hospital but the siblings were declared dead on arrival.

Boulder was found in the car. Picture: IPSS Medical Rescue

The young couple was set to return to their home next week. The siblings’ father, Ebrahim Haffejee, said this was a difficult time for their family.

“There are no words to describe the pain we are feeling." he said. "But we believe Allah knows best.

“We are also grateful for all the support we have been receiving from the community and even the police who have come to our home to share their condolences. Right now, we just want justice and for this to never happen to another family.”

Outraged social media users, community activists, businesses and residents banded together to raise a reward of R250 000 for any information that will lead to an arrest in connection with the killings.

'Always look ahead'

Road Traffic Inspectorate spokesperson Zinhle Mali said: “We urge motorists to be extra-cautious when travelling and to always look ahead at the overhead bridges to spot anyone suspicious lurking. RTI will be out in full force, patrolling and checking for pedestrians standing on these bridges. We will have them removed.

“It is also necessary for us to work hand-in-hand also with the SAPS to put an end to these crimes.”

Police spokesperson Captain Nqobile Gwala said they were investigating two counts of murder.

“If you drive over a rock or your windscreen is cracked due to stone throwers or obstructions on the road, don’t stop but drive to a safe place,” Gwala advised.

The Mercury