Tando Mokoena, was sentenced to 15 years' imprisonment for armed robbery and five years for kidnapping a student at the University of Johannesburg. Photo: Motlabana Monnakgotla

Johannesburg - After nearly five years at the University of Johannesburg (UJ), the day Tanya Smith* was kidnapped on campus will be etched in her memory.

The lectures she attended and the hours she spent in the library have faded into the background and feel strange since that day.

Smith was on her way to lectures one morning last August when a first-year student kidnapped her.

Earlier this month, the student, Tando Mokoena, was sentenced to 15 years’ imprisonment for armed robbery and five years for kidnapping. They are to run concurrently.

The attack occurred just before 9am on a weekday, when Smith was on her way to a class.

Mokoena overpowered her near her car and forced her into the boot. He got behind the wheel and drove to the security gate and tried to let himself out with her card, but it wouldn’t work.

A security guard, seeing that there was a woman’s picture on the card, took it to check it.

But Mokoena drove out the gate along with another car.

He headed to the south of Joburg and solicited Smith’s cards and PINs from her.

Mokoena stopped first at a BP service station in Eldorado Park to draw R4 000 from one of Smith’s cards. He then went to an Absa ATM at an Engen garage in Lenasia and withdrew R2 100 from her account.

Mokoena dropped Smith off on the side of the road between Eldorado Park and Lenasia, before making a third stop to a Spar to withdraw R700.

He then drove her car back to his house.

Mokoena was arrested there a few hours later, after police tracked him down, using the locator on her iPhone, which was still in the car.

Kim Marriott of Paul O’Sullivan & Associates, who worked on the case, said they had gathered evidence against Mokoena from CCTV footage, bank records and locaters.

Smith said the incident had left her and her family psychologically scarred.

She did not return to university after the crime, and is having to redo her studies this year.

Despite going for counselling, it was still hard to return to university, she said.

“The first few weeks were difficult and I would often drive home in tears.”

She now always attends lectures with a friend and has lost her joy for the campus.

Her lecturers were supportive, but she struggled to cope with stress and found keeping on top of her workload more difficult, Smith said.

“I still feel on the edge. That day is the most prominent memory I have of UJ,” she added.


*Not her real name.

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The Star