A trio of hijackers almost killed themselves and four of their victims in a high-speed chase yesterday after failing to notice a police car metres away from where they were committing the crime.
Jan King had been travelling through Benrose on his way to OR Tambo International Airport with three friends when the hijackers pounced.
A van pulled up next to him when he stopped his Toyota Prado on Ruven Road. It was then he noticed that the men in the car were all armed with R5 rifles and pistols, screaming at him.
King told The Star he could not hear what they were saying through his closed window, but realised it wasn’t a joke when he saw their assortment of guns.
Two of the men leapt from the vehicle to take the car by force, but rather than ordering King and his three passengers to get out of the car, all four were squashed into the backseat of the car as the two men jumped into the Prado’s passenger and driver’s seats.
But it seemed as though these particular hijackers had little to no peripheral vision, as they didn’t realise a marked Joburg flying squad car was just a few metres away.
Provincial police spokeswoman Captain Augustinah Selepe said the officers saw drivers in the cars just ahead of them screaming about the hijacking.
Two of the officers jumped out and ran towards the Prado, while the third pursued them in his squad car as the other hijacker sped off in a different direction in his van.
The man’s accomplices, who were in the hijacked Prado, then turned off Ruven Road into a one-way street, Barney Road, as they had by then realised that police were in pursuit. But the hijackers were travelling in the wrong direction: into oncoming traffic.
Bystanders said they heard screeching as the heavily loaded Prado swerved to the left to avoid a silver Mercedes travelling the right way. But the Mercedes swerved to the right, with both cars careering towards the curb and hitting another Toyota, and the back of a massive truck – both parked on the side of the road.
One of the hijackers managed to get out of the vehicle, and fled from the scene before police arrived. The other hijacker in the Prado was subsequently arrested.
The twisted, cracked front sections of the Mercedes, parked Toyota and Prado showed the huge force of the collision, but miraculously no one was hurt by the impact.
King said the entire incident took place in just a matter of minutes, and he was glad no one was injured and not a single bullet was fired.
Speaking to The Star, he said he was surprisingly calm about what had happened, but couldn’t speak for his three passengers, who looked somewhat in shock as police investigated the scene.
“But it looks like they’ve missed their flight,” King said.
Selepe said police recovered an R5 rifle and a handgun from the car.
The 40-year-old suspect will be appearing in court shortly, Selepe said.
She said police would continue their hunt for the van used in the hijacking as well as the other suspect.
ANOTHER ONE BITES THE DUST
One bullet to his chest and another to his right leg.
That was all it took to apprehend an attempted hijacking suspect at the intersection of Ormonde Street and Cardogan Avenue in Mondeor on Monday night, said Wayne Minnaar, from the Joburg metropolitan police department (JMPD).
The other suspect swiftly jumped out of the car and ran away, he added.
The two robbers hijacked a white Ford Figo at gunpoint in Rosettenville.
JMPD officers were alerted of the hijacking at about 9pm, and a chase ensued.
Two suspects were intercepted along the Golden Highway, where they opened fire at the officers.
The officers shot back and struck one suspect, with bullets hitting him in the chest and in a leg.
The man was still under police guard at Chris Hani Baragwanath Academic Hospital yesterday, and he will be charged with armed hijacking and possession of an illegal firearm.
The man’s alleged accomplice was still at large. -Lerato Sibanda