Student's jaw fractured in N2 airport 'hell run' rock-throwing attack

28 July 2023 - 11:16
By Kim Swartz
Lucilla Vlok treated in hospital after a rock smashed into her face.
Image: Supplied Lucilla Vlok treated in hospital after a rock smashed into her face.

Lucilla Vlok will not be able to chew properly for the next few weeks after her jaw was fractured by a rock hurled through her windscreen on the notorious N2 airport “hell run” in Cape Town. 

The 22-year-old student was left bloodied and terrified by the ordeal while she was en route to fetch a friend at Cape Town International Airport last Saturday. She is among the latest victims of attacks on motorists on the stretch of freeway. 

Moments before the chunk of rock hit her in the face, she spotted a man standing on the side of the freeway. Blood pouring from her face, she made a dash for safety at the airport.

The chunk of rock that smashed into Lucilla Vlok.
Image: Supplied The chunk of rock that smashed into Lucilla Vlok.

“When she arrived, she hooted to get someone's attention to help her,” said the digital marketing and communication student’s mother Elmarie.  

“She felt as if she wanted to faint. Then a woman named Mary-Jane helped her. She saw her window was smashed.”

Lucilla had an operation on her jaw. Two plates were inserted for the fracture and her teeth had been pushed out of place by the impact of the rock. 

TimesLIVE is aware that a pilot was also struck on the head by an object on the airport road and is in his second week receiving medical treatment in ICU. 

A similar incident happened to University of Johannesburg Prof Gert van der Westhuizen on March 26 when a rock hit his wife Leonie, also an academic, as they drove on a different route to the airport. Leonie went into cardiac arrest and died.

The couple’s son Jaco van der Westhuizen said there were CCTV cameras where the incident happened but it appeared police had yet to obtain the footage. While some suspects had been arrested for attacks on motorists, his father would not be able to identify them. 

Police spokesperson Lt-Col Malcolm Pojie said Leonie's case was still under investigation by the Nyanga police station as the incident happened in their precinct. 

Marc Volker, a founding member of the N2 Safety Project, an organisation that provides safety information related to protests, community violence and taxi wars in the province, posted an update about the attack on Lucilla on the organisation’s Facebook page.

Mitchel Walls then contacted Volker, saying she was also attacked in February.

The head injury sustained by Mitchel Walls.
Image: Supplied The head injury sustained by Mitchel Walls.

“I was going to the airport to pick my mom up and when I took the off ramp to the airport approach road, a man was standing on the bend. As I got closer he pulled his arm back and threw the rock into my car. I managed to turn my head and the rock hit the back of my head,” said Walls.

“I was in such shock that I kept driving and didn’t realise I had been hit until about a minute later when I was calling my parents in a panic.

The rock that hit Mitchel Walls.
Image: Supplied The rock that hit Mitchel Walls.

“I got to the airport parking and the police took me to the paramedics to get bandaged so I could go to the hospital in Stellenbosch with my mom. I was too scared to let her drive alone after what had happened, so I was determined not to go in an ambulance,” she said. 

City of Cape Town metro police spokesperson Ruth Solomons said they had regular patrols, day and night, on the N2 and R300.

“Officers assist a lot of drivers with their broken-down vehicles, [of] which the causes are mechanical breakdown, flat tyres or the vehicle is without petrol,” said Solomons. 

“These circumstances cause a window of opportunity for crime on the other parts of the N2 or R300 while the patrol vehicle is standing down rendering assistance.

“Metro police officers also remove a lot of debris from the road during patrols, when located, or when they are informed via the control room.” 

The city appealed to residents to report suspicious activity and crime in the affected areas to the Public Emergency Communication Centre by phoning 021-480-7700. 

“Motorists should take extra care and ensure their vehicles are roadworthy and they have sufficient fuel to reach their destinations,” added Solomons. 


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