They Stuck a Gun at My throat

Nothing can prepare you for the moment they stick a gun at your throat and tell you to hand over your car keys of they’ll kill you.

After an intruder surprised me alone at home in Wynberg in January then threw a paving stone through the window to snatch my laptop from my desk before leaping over the wall like a grasshopper to make his escape, I prepared myself for another attack.

I bought long axe handles and attached them on quick release clips above my doors. I put a baseball bat near the back door and I had panic buttons installed all over the place.

I carried a spare axe handle in the boot of my car and I believed I was super-alert to the possibility of attack. The next time, I swore, I would get the bastards before they got me.

Sure.

But nothing can prepare you for the moment they stick a gun at your throat and threaten to kill you if you don’t give them what they want. Like a video on an endless loop I play the scene over and over in my mind. I drive home from the airport on the N2. I stop in Queen Road, just below the bridge near the fountain at Rondebosch to reply to an SMS sent by a friend. I drive into Myrtle road. I notice two parked cars in the road. There is no one in them. There was a hijacking in this road some time age. I have been warned to be aware. I am aware. I park and get out of my car. I wonder if I should leave my suitcase in the car, or take it out. But no, I am just stopping for a quick cup of coffee then going home. I ring the doorbell, turn my back to the door and gaze up at Table Mountain in the soft moonlight. It’s nice to be back in Cape Town.

Suddenly there is shuffling I am pushed back against the door. There is a black man wearing a bright orange, or was it yellow jersey right next to me holding an automatic pistol to my throat. “Don’t speak,” he says. “Get down, give me your keys.” I obey. Then there is a second black man in the doorway pointing another pistol at me. He looks at me; his hand slides over the barrel of the piston. There is a solid metallic click as the gun is cocked. I notice the man holding the pistol to my head has highly polished shoes. They shine in the moonlight. Then the man who cocked the pistol, like a marksman, covering his accomplice, takes my keys, hands them to a third man who walks calmly to my car and opens the doors.

An arm slides around my waist. The gunman pats my back pocket then, like one of Fagin’s boys, in Oliver Twist, plucks my wallet out. “Please don’t take my ID and drivers license,” I plead. “I told you to keep quiet or I will kill you,” he says. “Please” I beg. “Keep quiet, I’ll kill you,’ he says.

The two gunmen back off and jump into my car. The doors have been opened for them. I run into the street yelling, “ help, help” at the top of my longs as they drive off.

That image, my car, an almost new charcoal Golf TDI being driven off with my suitcase, my laptop, my glasses, my cell phone my house keys off and me standing in the road helplessly yelling is forever burned into my consciousness.

I remember lying on ground afterwards and crying – a kind of primordial howl of rage and loss.

The police and an armed guard from ADT came, in response to a panic button. They asked questions took statements, listed things, and filled in forms. I signed them, even though I could not read because my glasses were gone with my car. A good-natured police detective drove me me home. I woke my neighbours who had spare keys to my house. I have since changed the locks. They have my keys. The axe handles remain clipped above the doors, untouched.

The police do catch criminals, among them hijackers. I hope they catch the men who attacked me. But I don’t think they will. I was lucky to be left alive.

I was told on Friday about a man whose friend was hijacked at the weekend. His body was found the next morning. Theer was aknife stick in his throat. I got off lightly; so many people have suffered so much more.

In the days since the incident I have hard a lot of stories from people who are victims of crime. It’s a bit like the universal question. “What were you doing when Kennedy was shot?” Except the question has become: “And when were you attacked?”

And what do I think, while the minister of police supported by his Government tells whining whites to pack and leave the country if they are concerned about crime?

I think this: We who have worked long and hard to have things to enjoy are simply low hanging fruit, easy pickings for criminals. No, they are not poor and starving and committing crime to stay alive. They are professional businessmen. They know what they want and they take it. They are cold and callous and they don’t care. They have dead eyes. And they act with impunity. They know there is little chance that they will ever be caught.

I see the smartly dressed, trio who hijacked me driving down the road in my car, playing my CDs, and laughing. I have worked for over 30 years to earn my possessions. It took them two automatic pistols and about 60 seconds to take them from me. Sure I will claim from insurance. But I pay for that as well.

Sadly I can’t really offer any warnings to anyone. That would be trite. The fact is they co withthe guns, they threaten to kill you, they take what they want and they go It’s as simple as that.

All I can say is don’t ever think it won’t happen to you. It will. Not one of us is immune.

In the meantime do try to be alert; avoid dark places; don’t resist, insure all you have, make regular backups of computer files, keep copies of your ID and drivers license and credit cards.

And pray that when it happens to you-and it will- they will be kind and leave you alive. That about the best you can hope for.

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