Women in three-hour hijack ordeal as friends conned into paying money into e-wallet
Police are warning motorists to be cautious after two men hijacked and kidnapped two women in Mayfair, Johannesburg, in broad daylight.
The incident happened on Church Street around midday on Friday when the women left a restaurant and were getting into their car, police said. A man threatened them with a knife and hijacked the vehicle, driving off with the women and an accomplice.
Police later found their silver Toyota at a block of flats in Westbury with the women still inside.
“The women told the police that they were hijacked and kidnapped by the man who was found with them - and he was arrested,” said Capt Jeanette Backoff.
“The women were extremely traumatised but not otherwise injured.”
Police found R3,230 in cash on the man and will investigate whether this was taken from the women or from their bank accounts.
The arrested suspect faces charges of hijacking and kidnapping.
Armed response company Suburban Control Centre shared the hijacker's modus operandi on Facebook.
The suspect initially pretended he was stuck without fuel and asked the women for money.
When they responded that they had none, he threatened them and pointed out an accomplice standing on the other side of the car, the security company said. He then jumped into the driver's seat and drove off with them. The accomplice got on to the back seat, next to the women.
"They took all the money and valuables the women had ... They drove around with them, selling whatever valuables they had in the car. They forced the women to give up their bank card PINs before withdrawing cash at ATMs and along the way stopped to buy alcohol."
When the women had no more money available in their accounts, the hijackers told them to contact friends and family with a ploy to get more cash, said Suburban Control Centre.
The women were instructed to say they had "knocked over a small child" and needed R5,000 to pay for a doctor. They said the money should be sent to them via e-wallet.
The women's colleagues, meanwhile, had become alarmed when they failed to return to work. On telephoning them, the phone was answered by the suspects who repeated the story that the women had knocked over one of their children.
"But because they were so intoxicated, the story didn't tie up and Netstar, the police and security companies in the area were notified."
One of the women's family members had made an e-wallet transfer, said Suburban Control Centre.
The suspects withdrew the money at an ATM and "stopped to buy more alcohol and drugs, which allowed the authorities to rescue the women" three hours after their kidnapping.
The details provided by the security company were not confirmed by the police spokesperson, who said the officer handling the case would be aware of the specifics.
Johannesburg police are warning drivers to stay alert when leaving and returning to their vehicles.
They have issued these tips to stay safe
• If a stranger approaches your car, drive off or press your hooter to attract attention;
• Be aware that hijackers sometimes pretend to be beggars or stage a minor incident so that they can approach your car;
• If a stranger loiters around your driveway or near a place where you want to park, drive off;
• Avoid stopping in remote places;
• Always lock your doors and keep windows closed;
• Do not give strangers a lift;
• Do not leave valuables in open view in the car;
• Do not leave keys in the ignition;
• Do not open windows for hawkers;
• If something seems at all suspicious, keep driving.