032 16.06.2012 Members of the police carry in their hands a plastic bag full of jewelry that was stolen by four(4) robbers, the 4 were chased by police after robbing a jewelry store in Randburg Mall, the suspects were arrested at corner Fir Dr and Pendoring Rd in Blackheath. The other 4 suspects are still at large according to the police. Johannesburg. Picture:Itumeleng English

Rodney Mhlanga was both horrified and pleasantly surprised when he read about the NWJ heist – horrified to read that four people had been shot in Randridge Mall on Saturday, but happy when he recognised his white Isuzu bakkie as a getaway vehicle, and the faces of the four suspects he says hijacked it.

Mhlanga, 46, said he was hijacked on Thursday evening outside his house in Bellevue, two days before the heist.

“I saw them coming in my rear-view mirror,” he said.

“My son, aged 18, was closing the gate behind me when five men surrounded him. I knew the situation was bad but I didn’t panic,” he said.

Mhlanga got out of the car and left the keys in with the engine idling.

“But, like every day when he comes home from work, his three-year-old daughter and 12-year-old son jumped into the passenger seat to greet their dad.

“The men put a 9mm handgun to my chest. They all had guns. I told them they could have the car, just let the children out first,” said Mhlanga.

“I had to beg for my life. I said ‘please don’t shoot me, take the car. I’m just asking for my children before you drive off’,” he said.

The men didn’t say a word.

“I called ‘Martin, Precious, please come out of the car quickly’, and my kids ran inside the garage. Then the men drove away.”

He said all the men were dressed smartly and showed their faces.

“When I read the story about the jewellery heist, my children instantly recognised the men who attacked us.”

The self-employed Zimbabwean construction worker, who has lived in SA since 1989, said that while he was very happy that the men had been apprehended, he still hadn’t heard from the police and was still without his vehicle.

“I’m sitting at home, I can’t move or work,” said Mhlanga.

“That bakkie is the only source of bread for my children,” he said.

“If I was cheeky they may have killed me. It’s not worth dying for cars.”

The police were unavailable for comment by Tuesday night.


The Star