Durban – The car of Durban’s top traffic cop, commissioner Steve Middleton, was stolen from his driveway when neighbour Janine Walker was hijacked by a trio of armed men.
Walker was returning the vehicle after Middleton lent it to her to visit her husband in hospital on Thursday night.
Speaking to the Independent on Saturday, Middleton confirmed the incident, saying the gang took his personal vehicle, a Mercedes SUV.
“When Janine arrived back, four armed men approached her and assaulted her. She screamed and I ran up the driveway when I heard the screaming, but when I got there the car was revving up the road.
“I got hold of metro police and told them to get 10111,” said Middleton.
Metro officers responded first and were soon followed by police units and Tracker. Walker had been hit on the head with a pistol by one of the assailants.
“We had an idea the car could be in Kwadabeka, so the authorities went there and recovered the vehicle within an hour. I have just come back from Isipingo (police) pound and my vehicle is there.
“I spoke to Janine this morning and she’s sore but fine. I’m not too worried about the car, as long as Janine is fine. My kids are also traumatised because it took place in our driveway,” said Middleton.
Walker was not available for comment.
SAPS spokesperson Captain Nqobile Gwala confirmed the incident took place at about 8pm when the victim first noticed a vehicle stop behind her as she pulled into the driveway.
“Three suspects got out, assaulted her with a firearm and pulled her out of the vehicle before fleeing,” said Gwala.
Meanwhile, security companies and neighbourhood watches have warned that a hijack gang could be operating in and around Durban.
A member of the Malvern neighbourhood watch who did not want to be named said a hijacking took place at a local garage in Northdene at about 9pm on Monday.
“They approached the women in the vehicle and chased them. These guys are not scared, they are brazen,” he said.
Russel Lawson of New Germany-based LAD Security, which assisted after the hijacking on Thursday night, said they believed the gang could be three or four suspects in their twenties, who are armed with handguns and a rifle and “have no fear”.
Llewellyn Joyce, also from LAD Security, said driveways were a common spot for hijackings.
“The public needs to be aware that’s where you are most vulnerable because you are getting home, a place where you feel safe. That’s when they will get you,” he said.
Blue Security reported a Pinetown family had a lucky escape when confronted by a gang of armed men in their driveway two weeks ago.
Blue’s community and media liaison officer, Andreas Mathios, said the Tyrone Road residents had been saying goodbye to friends at about 10.30pm.
The CCTV footage indicated the suspects had driven past the house several times. The main gate was open as the friends were about to leave when the gang stormed up the driveway. As the residents and visitors fought to keep them out, one of the suspects fired four shots before fleeing.
“If you can help it, never reverse out of your driveway. Make sure that you’ve got 360-degree visibility when leaving your home, business or place of recreation. Always check your mirrors to see you are not being followed.
“If you suspect you are being followed, drive around the block and notify a family member or your neighbourhood watch network that you are being followed and drive to your nearest police station. If you are aware of surveillance cameras in the area that you are visiting, drive slowly past the cameras. The footage can later be used as evidence,” Mathios said.
In Shakaskraal on the North Coast, a grandmother was shot while trying to rescue her teenage granddaughter during an attempted hijacking outside their home.
According to sister newspaper Post, Saras Ramadeen, 64, heard her granddaughter, Ashmika, cry out from the yard where her boyfriend, Jody Govender, had arrived from Friday prayers. Two men had come onto the property and pushed Govender into the back of the car.
As Ashmika tried to intervene, they grabbed her by her hair and hit her with a gun before holding it to her head. As Ramadeen ran outside to help her granddaughter, they fired at her, hitting her in the arm before they fled.