01/05/2014 Durban From left Constable Philani Cebekhulu, Paddy Kearney and Sergeant Ravandran Balakrishna. PICTURE: SIBUSISO NDLOVU

Durban - Rarely commended, Durban police officers were surprised on Thursday when humanitarian Paddy Kearney thanked them for helping him after he was hijacked this week.

Kearney, who is a former director of the Diakonia Council of Churches, said, while his hijacking experience had been “awful”, the Ntuzuma police had impressed him with their “efficiency and empathy”.

Ntuzuma officers Sergeant Ravandran Balakrishna and Constable Philani Cebekhulu, of the visible policing unit, found Kearney after hijackers left him on a dirt road in Lindelani, near KwaMashu, on Monday morning.

Durban metro police found Kearney’s Hyundai i10 about 10 minutes after he reported the incident.

They gave chase and the hijackers abandoned the vehicle.

Kearney had gone to Ntuzuma to look for a man who used to do part-time work for him and ended up getting lost.

“I started asking people for help, but I could not find the right house. Then two guys came up to me and said they would take me to the right area.”

But the men directed Kearney to drive to a secluded area, where they held him up with knives and took his car keys, cash, bank cards and cellphone.

Neither of them could drive, so they found a third man to help them.

“They gave him R100 from the cash they had taken from me and he agreed to drive. I was lying down on the back seat with one of them watching me,” said Kearney.

He said one of the men was later dropped off and he believes that he tried to withdraw money from his bank account.

“I am not sure if he succeeded – I am still waiting for my bank statement.”

Kearney was eventually left in Lindelani and he asked a shop owner to call the police.

He said the Ntuzuma police officers, especially Balakrishna and Cebekhulu, had been “wonderful”.

The officers took him to the Ntuzuma police station so he could make a statement and wait for his car.

“While it was not a pleasant experience, it was an opportunity to see good policing. People do not have a lot of confidence in the police, but there are good police officers out there.”

Kearney said the officers even bought him lunch and escorted him back to the N3 highway once his car had been fingerprinted.

The Mercury