Wits Vuvuzela journalist in attempted hijacking in Auckland Park, robbed at gunpoint

A second Wits Vuvuzela journalist has become a victim of crime in just as many days.

Last night, a journalist was involved in an attempted hijacking and robbed of her wallet and jewellery at gunpoint. The incident happened just twenty four hours after another journalist was mugged on Wits University campus after the Bidvest Wits vs Orlando Pirates match.

The  attempted hijacking took place on Annet Road near the University of Johannesburg’s Bunting Road Campus around midnight.

The student journalist, who has asked not to be named, stopped at a traffic light and was approached by a man, who came out of nowhere.

The man reached into his pocket and pulled out a gun, demanding for her to get out of her vehicle. Before she got out, she managed to throw her cellphone onto the floor of her vehicle and out of sight.

The journalist says she could not drive off as her vehicle was stuck between two cars at the red traffic light.

[pullquote] The man reached into his pocket and pulled out a gun, demanding her to get out of her vehicle. [/pullquote]

Once out of her vehicle, the hijacker, acting alone, took her wallet with cash and driver’s licence and a ring of sentimental value.

A man in the vehicle next to her got out and asked what was happening. This scared the aggressor who then fled on foot.

The student was driving home after a late night working on campus.

With an increasing rate of crime in and around the area, students are encouraged to be vigilant at all times. Ensure your vehicle is locked and keep valuables out of sight.

Wits Campus Control can be reached on 011 717 4444 or 011 717 6666 or 011 717 1801.

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A hijacker speaks from a cell

“The couple was traumatised, we could see. We took the car and drove off. After three blocks my partner and I realised there was a baby in the back seat. I told my partner to take the car and I took the baby and drove [in the backup car] to the police station to leave it there.”

Vuvuzela spoke to a hijacker who is serving his sixth year of a 25-year sentence in a Johannesburg prison. He says he was dubbed by the media as the “Mastermind” and prefers not to be named. The Mastermind spoke to us about the hijacking business in South Africa and what it’s like holding a gun to a driver’s head.

He grew up in a township where his family owned a scrap yard and sold spare car parts. By 16 he started stealing cars and says he knows more about cars than anything else.  After a while he ventured into stealing bigger cars and made a name for himself. He was good at starting any car – without its key. Later he got into hijacking because it was quick cash.

 “There is a difference between hijacking and stealing,” he says, “When you steal a car you aren’t afraid of the car you[‘ve] stolen. When you jack a car, you take it when the owners are at hand. You are in power; there is this adrenaline that controls you.”

Hijacking has become a profession with people occupying specific positions.  Finger men spot cars that are on order and after days of watching their target and taking in their routine, the operation is then carried out. Most hijackings are carried out by two to three people – who play specific roles of intimidator, driver, tracker system detector, watcher and drop off driver.

The Mastermind – who has lost count of how many people he has hijacked – says syndicates do not want Japanese-made cars. German luxury cars such as Audi, BMW, Mercedes, Volkswagen Golf 4, 5 and 6 and Polo Vivos are mostly on order. The bigger the car, the bigger it’s fetching price which can go up to R80 000 a car.

Once a car is taken, the hijacker “drives like a mad person to a particular spot” to find the tracker and throws it away. Cars are then sometimes dismantled and their parts go back to car dealers and then to its manufacturers where it is repolished for use in new cars. They are sold locally or taken across the border to be sold.

The Mastermind says women are not mostly targeted. He advises motorists to keep a distance from other cars, not to speak to strangers through your window, not to park in deserted areas and if in a hijacking situation not to make sudden moves.