HEAVILY armed gunmen are targeting unsuspecting motorists on the N2 near the Mandeni and Tongaat toll plazas.
A group of friends travelling to a wedding and a man on his way to work are lucky to be alive after gunmen opened fire on them, in two separate incidents.
Ashin Nundlall, 46, of Etete, on the North Coast, said he was travelling in his Toyota Tazz and was a few meters before the Tongaat toll when he came under fire on Monday morning.
Nundlall, a senior officer for Seta, a skills development agency, said it was just after 7am when he heard a loud bang and the driver’s side window shattered.
“At first I thought I was in an accident but as I looked to the side, I spotted a white VW Polo with two men inside right next to me. The passenger had a gun and he was pointing it in my direction.”
He said he was shocked and confused and did not know what to do.
“I soon realised that my life was at stake and I needed to save myself. I hit my brakes in an attempt to deter them. But, they were relentless.”
Nundlall said the gunman fired several more shots at his windscreen.
“Two bullets hit me in my chest and two grazed my ear and skull. Another ricocheted off my shoulder. They seemed determined to kill me…”
Despite being severely injured, and bleeding profusely, Nundlall said he picked up speed with his vehicle and managed to crash into the suspects’ vehicle.
“I just saw them get out of the car and run into the bushes. I also got out of my car and managed to drag myself to the centre island on the road. I felt like I was going to die,” he said.
Fortunately, a passing motorist went to his assistance.
“He called Reaction Unit SA (Rusa) and emergency services. I was stabilised and taken to hospital,” said Nundlall.
He said he was grateful to be alive and thanked all those who assisted him.
“Motorists need to be vigilant. Criminals are lurking everywhere. Even our freeways are not safe,” he added.
Prem Balram of Rusa said they conducted an aerial search for the suspects at the request of uMhlali SAPS.
“We used our R44 helicopter in a low level flight search but were unable to locate the suspects,” said Balram.
Lieutenant Colonel Nqobile Gwala, KZN police spokesperson, said a case of attempted murder was being investigated.
Gwala cautioned motorists to be vigilant when driving.
Meanwhile, a group of friends travelling to a wedding in Ponta do Ouro, in Mozambique, when they came under fire during an attempted hijacking near the Mandeni toll plaza.
Dawn Govender, 51, a caterer from Westville, recalled how she prayed and another passenger sprinkled holy water around herself as the gunmen opened fire on their kombi. She said she was with her husband Deena, 54, the driver and 14 friends at the time.
A still shaken, Govender said as they approached the toll plaza, they noticed a man lean out of a vehicle travelling alongside them.
“He had a long gun and started to shoot at our kombi. It was like a scene out of a movie. I ducked for cover and tried to avoid the bullets,” she said.
The friends had left Durban in the early hours of October 27.
“We were travelling in a luxury kombi with a trailer. The driver suggested we leave early in the morning, so we could be at the Mozambique border when it opened,” said Govender.
She said they had planned on being in Ponta do Ouro for the weekend and the early arrival would have allowed them the day for sight-seeing.
“We were excited for the trip and everyone was in a good mood. About an hour into the journey – around 3:30am – a motorist behind us began to flash his lights,” said Govender.
“We were meant to travel with others in a convoy to Mozambique. At first we thought it was them flashing their lights. However, when the driver looked in his rear-view mirror, he noticed the car had a GP registration. It was then that we realised it was not anyone we knew,” she added.
Govender said they instructed the driver to continue driving.
“The car then drove up to the right hand side of the kombi – directly next to where I was sitting. I suddenly heard a loud sound. I thought we had suffered a punctured tyre. But, when I heard the sound for the second time, I realised it was gunshots. The occupants of the vehicle were shooting at us.
“As the bullets sprayed the vehicle, my husband, who was the front passenger, screamed at us to take cover and lower our heads. We all ducked for cover. We could still hear the shots being fired and we were terrified. By this time we were just praying to God for protection from the bullets. We were literally sitting ducks,” she said.
“The suspects were relentless. They continued to shoot at the driver, who was trying his best to get away. A man then emerged from the window of the vehicle. He had a huge, long gun and he fired at us and then suddenly stopped.”
She said when the shooting stopped everyone began checking themselves to make sure they were not hit.
“Seconds later they began shooting at us again, this time from the left side. The passengers at the back heard a bullet hit into the side of the kombi. I remember giving my friend a pillow to protect herself. At that moment all we could think about was our families at home and that we may never see them again.”
Govender said one of their friends tried calling 10111 for help and was transferred to a police station in the area. However, their call went unanswered.
“We honestly believed we were going to be killed. By this time some of us were just praying aloud. One of the ladies who had some holy water, began sprinkling it in the kombi and praying for our lives to be spared.
“After what seemed like eternity, the shooting stopped and the vehicle turned around and sped off. There was no number plate at the back of the car. As we drove away, we constantly checked behind us to make sure we were not being followed.”
She said they eventually stopped at a garage near Richards Bay.
“There was some damage to the kombi. But, thankfully, no one was injured. We are very shaken but grateful to be alive.”
Govender described the suspects as aggressive and relentless.
“We believe it was an attempted hijacking and robbery. It was only God that spared us. When everyone felt safer and stronger, we continued our journey. We were not going to miss our friend’s wedding. We only told our families about our ordeal when we returned home after the wedding.”
“The more I talk about what happened, the more unreal it seems. All the passengers are coping in their own way. Prayer is helping me cope. I advise motorists not to use that route at night.”