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Mom and son’s harrowing kidnapping by men with blue lights

05 May 2021 - 11:20 By alex patrick
A Gauteng mother recounted the hijacking she suffered with her son in the vehicle. Stock photo.
A Gauteng mother recounted the hijacking she suffered with her son in the vehicle. Stock photo.
Image: 123RF/Pop Nukoonrat

What would you do if you were stopped on a highway at night by flashing blue lights on a vehicle in which the occupants were dressed in police uniform?

A Gauteng mother*,  46, always said she would never stop for anyone. However, last Friday, confronted with that very scenario, she did. She’s lucky to be alive to talk about the night she and her son were abducted by hijackers pretending to be police officers.

“It still feels unreal. I was always extra-observant, always stopping far from other vehicles if I needed to. But once I was in the situation I did the opposite. My son is 16 and at the end of the year he will be driving and I think I wanted to be a good example to him. I saw what I thought was police and I didn’t want to flee with my son in the car. 

“Now the example I set put our lives in danger.

“I asked the police what I should have done and the constable said, ‘Ma'am, you don’t stop at night on the highway for anyone’.”

On Wednesday she will visit the crime scene with police to walk through the events.

On Friday the pair were returning home to Kempton Park after her son participated in a fishing competition at Loskop dam in Middelburg. He had all his camping and fishing gear with him so she took the family’s Toyota Land Cruiser.

Her husband was working in Namibia and her daughter, 14, was waiting for the pair at home. The daughter called every hour to check their progress and at 7.30pm, six hours into the drive, the mom told her she could start warming their food because they were nearly home.

A few minutes later, she noticed the blue lights and sirens behind her.

She believes the car was a white three-series BMW. The man behind the wheel indicated for her to stop on the side of the road by getting between her and the left lane.

“He pushed me off the road, and Im a conscientious citizen so I moved off. He came over with a blue uniform on. I opened my window just a bit. He asked for my licence and where we were coming from and where we were going. 

“Then he asked what was in the car and lifted his flashlight [to look] into the car and said I should unlock the doors because he wants to see what is there.

He said, ‘Don’t speak Afrikaans or we will kill you.’

“Again, I did not want to cause trouble so I unlocked the doors. The moment I hit the button, my door and both doors on my son’s side opened. They jumped on top of me and my son.”

One of the hijackers threw their belongings onto the road and she was forced into the back seat. Her son was made to lie down while still wearing his seat belt.

His hands were tied in front of him and her hands were tied behind her as she was pushed down into the seat next to him.

They were blindfolded. 

“It was so distressing. I felt so restrained with my hands fastened so I forced my hands out of the cable tie. I moved my hands very slowly to under my chest and touched my son with my fingers to try to reassure him. I also tried to feel with my hand if he was able to breathe.”

She asked her son, “Is jy OK? [are you OK?]” and was warned to only speak English.

“He said, ‘Don’t speak Afrikaans or we will kill you.’

“I’ve never felt so claustrophobic.”

The pair was driven around for an hour while the hijackers took their bank cards and cellphones.

The concerned daughter started calling her mother at around 8pm. The calls were ignored, which made her husband also try to call.

A few minutes later, another man entered the car with a bag she believed contained guns. She could feel the vehicle was travelling through a field and continued to travel that terrain for some time.

“They stopped and asked me about the tracker system and then told us to lie still. They worked for about 40 minutes [to pry out the tracker] and then opened my door and said, ‘We will take you out now.

They opened my door and said, ‘We will take you out now.’ I thought, does that mean 'take out' like shooting, or taking out of the car? I put my hands tightly on my son’s chest and said I love him very much.

“I thought, does that mean 'take out' like shooting, or taking out of the car? I put my hands tightly on my sons chest and said I love him very much.”

She wanted the hijackers to know they must not harm him.

She asked the men to keep her sons eyes covered if they were going to do anything to her because she didnt want him to see.

“They took me out and let me sit in the field. I asked where my son was. They were taking so long.”

She was concerned they would take her son with them, but they were struggling with his seat belt. Once freed, a knife was put to his throat and he was told they wanted to shoot him. But he was spared and, still blindfolded, he followed his mothers voice.

Through it all her phone kept ringing and she was told to reassure her family she was safe or she would be shot.

“I spoke to my daughter and husband and said, ‘We are OK and sitting in traffic.’”

The hijackers told the pair they must remain seated in the field for 10 minutes while they made their getaway. 

“When they were out of sight, we started moving to where we heard cars. From there we found a tar road and walked towards lights.”

Thirty minutes into the walk, a police vehicle came past.

She said she was now unsure of the police but took a chance, which paid off. The police officer took the pair to Dann police station in Boksburg and finally she could tell her husband and daughter what had happened. 

“My son was amazing, so calm. He said the whole time, ‘We will do what you want, we will co-operate.’”

She feels the fact that they were calm and forthcoming with their PIN numbers and other information kept them alive. 

All the family members are receiving counselling.

Her husband is experiencing secondary trauma and has become ill. His stress comes from not being there to help, she said.

She said the ordeal has not scared her to the point that she is fearful of driving, but she is emotional when speaking about her sons day at the fishing competition.

“It was such an amazing day. I fetched him early but I was told to please bring him back on Sunday because he would more than likely make the top three. That would place him in the Protea team.

“I know it is just things that were taken, but he looked after his fishing stuff so well. It was important to him and I’m sad he lost those things.”

While sceptical the hijackers would be caught, she said she had been contacted by police in Secunda, Mpumalanga, about what they believed was a syndicate. 

“In hindsight I should have driven to the airport because it was the nearest populated place with police. 

“These guys are professionals. People at the top say they want a certain car and the hijackers will go for that car. Everything else is just extra for the hijackers. 

“Luckily my husband quickly stopped all our accounts.”

* Editors note: Names have been withheld in line with our policy to not identify children who are victims of crime.