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‘You only think of getting the child back,’ says man who rescued two-year-old involved in a carjacking

The two-year-old boy was successfully recovered and the carjacker arrested. Picture: Supplied

The two-year-old boy was successfully recovered and the carjacker arrested. Picture: Supplied

Published May 12, 2022

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Cape Town - When a call came through about a hijacking, members of the Gordon's Bay Security (GBS) immediately swung into action.

When they heard a two-year-old child was in the vehicle, the adrenaline rushed through their veins, they were willing to do everything to ensure the little boy was found safe and unharmed.

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On Friday, May 6, GBS chief operating officer Heyns de Waal said they got the call after 3pm.

“We received information regarding an Avanza that was allegedly hijacked outside a school in Grabouw, with a two-year-old toddler in it.

“The call was made to GBSEC and Gordons Bay SAPS from Grabouw SAPS because information received indicated was that it was travelling in our direction,” De Waal said.

The two-year-old boy was successfully recovered and the carjacker arrested. Picture: Supplied

However, it was later discovered it was not a hijacking, the toddler was in a school shuttle vehicle.

The driver of the vehicle stepped out of the vehicle and left the keys in the ignition, the opportunistic suspect saw the predicament and took full advantage of this.

De Waal said, upon hearing this, they treated it as if there were firearms in the vehicles and had to ensure they did everything to stop the vehicle, with the driver off guard.

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“The last thing we wanted was a shootout or him ramming police vans. We had to stop him on a coastal road.

“However, then we got news that cameras picked up the vehicle headed in the direction of Hermanus.

“We are part of the Tracker SA network and, once we put the incident on our network, one of the tracking companies came back stating it was their vehicle.

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Fleets of vehicles surrounded the police station, blocking off roads as members wanted to ensure the toddler save was indeed unharmed. Picture: supplied

“They then let us know the vehicle was not heading to Hermanus, but en route to Kleinmond,” de Waal explained.

He told IOL that they immediately notified Kleinmond police, as the station was located on the Main Road, however, they could see the vehicle was still moving and later found out Kleinmond police had missed the vehicle.

Adrenaline kicked in and, within minutes, a plan was devised to bring this vehicle to a halt and rescue the toddler.

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Throughout this process, the vehicle was being tracked and officers were placed strategically at certain points.

The teams have analysed every possible scenario.

“I went in an unmarked vehicle. I could see where he (suspect) was driving. I said, no matter what happens, I am going to get this child.

“As he passed me, I waited for another vehicle to pass and then I went behind him,” De Waal told IOL.

While tailing the suspect along the R44, he kept all services on par with what was happening through radio communications.

“When he came to a stop everyone, including metro police just surrounded him. I got in behind him so he could not move. I just ran to the vehicle for the child.

“My heart stopped when I did not see the child in the back. I then saw the child on the front seat without a seat belt. I opened the door, he looked and held his arms out to me. I told him: ‘I am taking you to your mommy, your mommy sent me’ because he kept saying ‘I want my mommy’,” De Waal explained.

He ran back with the child to his vehicle, teams had the suspect on the ground and the scene remained volatile, but his main focus remained on the toddler.

De Waal said that only once he was in the vehicle, it dawned on him that the nightmare was over.

He said he radioed to inform all services “the child was found, unharmed”, and once he put the radio down his hands started shaking. It was the adrenaline.

He rushed the little boy to the victim support room at the police station.

“He was clinging on to me. I told him I was taking him to his mommy and he calmed down. He just wanted to be with me. He was soaking wet and I didn’t realise he was wet because of urine and not the rain. When I checked myself I saw my chest was also wet.

“But the amazing women from the victim support room had nappies and the ladies from the neighbourhood watch had all sizes in clothing,” De Waal explained.

When the toddler became jittery again, De Waal was called in to calm him down.

“I spent a few minutes with him to calm him down. I then made him familiar with a female officer from Gordon’s Bay. He got so attached to her, he did not want to go home with Grabouw SAPS. The Gordon’s Bay officer had to take him home,” he explained.

De Waal said, once at the police station, police officers from Cape Town Flying Squad, K9, Gordons Bay and Grabouw K9, Flying Squad, neighbourhood watches – everyone involved, whether behind the desk, on a radio or watching through CCTV came and blocked off the roads around the police station, all wanting to get a glimpse and see with their own eyes that the toddler they have all been wanting to save, was indeed safe.

“You don’t realise the magnitude of the response there was. There were fleets of vehicles. It was extremely emotional for all those involved. There might be many problems and challenges, but let us keep incidents like this in our thoughts before we always criticise so soon.

“Thank you to each and every member, of every service, unit, organisation, control room, and watch, for what you did on this day to save this child and his affected family,” De Waal added.

The suspect, who was arrested, is no stranger to officers from Grabouw, as he has previously been in trouble for allegedly breaking into a state facility.

Provincial police spokesperson Warrant Officer Joseph Swartbooi confirmed that the suspect remains behind bars.

“A 27-year-old man was arrested and detained on charges of possession of a stolen motor vehicle, theft of a motor vehicle, and kidnapping of a minor.

“The suspects made a court appearance in the Grabouw Magistrate’s Court on Monday. The suspect has been remanded in custody,” Swartooi said.

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IOL

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