A few years ago I woke up fairly early one morning so that I could have a training session at the gym before going to work. It was going into winter and the air was crisp and cool. It had rained fairly hard during the night but the sun was shining brightly that morning. I put on a warm tracksuit and headed out to my car carrying my work computer box in my arms. I owned an old metallic green Ford Laser back then and took great care of my classic car. I have always taken great care of my belongings and my belongings have done the same in return. After placing my computer box in the car I went back inside to fetch my kit bag with my work clothes and towel inside.
I was off down the road towards a shopping complex called Kingfisher square in Elspark near Johannesburg. I parked my car outside a large white building and leaned into the back seat to collect my kit bag. As I was about to lock the car door I heard somebody shouting behind me. I immediately turned around to see what all the commotion was about and to my horror I saw a man rapidly approaching with a gun in his hand. He spoke abruptly to his accomplices in an African language. Then he swiftly shoved the gun forward and forced the barrel against the side of my head. I was immediately tense and could feel my heart start to race. The blood drained rapidly from my face and I felt dizzy. He was kind enough to tell me that he did not want to shoot me, he just wanted my car.
The hijacker commanded me to get down, and I immediately obeyed. There was a large puddle of rainwater on the ground and he forced me to lie belly down into it. At the same moment he grabbed the keys to my car and repeatedly told me to get down. I wasn’t in a position to argue.
One of his accomplices reached down and snatched my kit bag from my hand, while the other accomplice snatched my glasses off my face and stole my watch. The watch had been given to me a short while back as a birthday present from my parents. As for my glasses, they were prescription lenses of no use to them, and they were brand new.
They all looked around quickly as if in a state of panic. The one man who climbed into the back seat of the car was swearing at me quite harshly. I couldn’t help shaking my head and thinking that I should be the one swearing in that situation, who does he think he is? He’s the one getting my car for free.
The man holding me at gunpoint was the designated driver, and he was struggling to start the car. He swore at me and told me to show him how to start the car. I attempted to reach forward and show them a slot for the immobiliser to slide into. That was a mistake. They were threatened by my attempt at trying to help them, and the man with the gun threatened to shoot me. My heart was pounding and I shrunk back into the icy water. I was in such a state of panic that I did not even notice the water. I was expecting the gun to go off at any second. I braced myself for the shot.
Luckily they saw that I was no threat to them and soon noticed the slot for the immobiliser. In seconds the car engine revved up and they did a sharp turn towards the nearest main road. The man on the backseat wound down his window, and was cursing me as they drove away. Because I was in a state of shock at the time, my only response was to scream. That is exactly what I did; I think the group were laughing at me, now that they were home free. I screamed my lungs out and foolishly slapped my hand against the back window of my car.
The car headed over a sharp island and the hijackers sped off out the shopping complex. At a time when one would not have expected people walking around, the complex was strangely quiet. In fact there was no sign of anyone around. Whether they had all run away in fear or there was nobody there to start with is anyone’s guess.
Without thinking to dash upstairs and ask somebody at the gym for help I chased after the car in vain. I saw them head out onto the main road towards the residential areas. There happened to be a man crossing over the main road in a van filled with gardening equipment. His workers were also seated at the back on their way to work. I was in a state of panic and I begged the man to chase after my stolen vehicle. He looked quite startled and told me to climb into the back. We headed in the direction taken by the hijackers, much to my relief. We must have travelled a mile or so down the road when the driver of the vehicle turned into a filling station. The man was obviously afraid and did not want to get involved.
I was quite upset because I knew something about my car that those hijackers didn’t. My Ford Laser was fitted with a simple anti-hijacking device. The device had a hidden switch which needed to be pressed once the car had been started. After a minute or so the device would cut the flow of fuel to the carburettor and bring the car to a halt. At the same time that this occurred the hazard lights would flash. I knew that my car could not have been far from the station where I was stranded.
I was persistent and nagged everyone that was filling up their cars for help. I had no luck everyone shrugged their shoulders and said they could not help me. As I was about to head out of the garage towards the main road a short plump man grabbed me on the shoulder and offered to help me. He was a police reservist and he showed me his gun. In a couple of seconds we were on the main road heading towards a busy intersection. We did not travel far before we saw a police van parked at the main intersection. The frustrated hijackers had obviously been stranded at the robot thanks to my handy device. Then they must have seen the police van and headed for the hills.
The car doors were standing wide open, but everything had been left behind. The policemen parked behind my car had put such fear into them that they dashed for their lives. My kit bag and computer were both there, and my car keys were sitting safely in the ignition.
So the only items that were stolen from me were my glasses and my watch. I must say that I was quite fortunate that day and I am very glad to be alive. Sadly they stole a lot more from me though, they stole my right to freedom and because of that incident I live in constant fear of leaving my own house. Watching your back every time you walk out into the street is a complete violation of one’s civil rights.
Anthony E. Southby is the author of two exciting fantasy adventure stories. The 'Green Planet' series is fast-paced and brims over with wit and invention. With his vivid imagination the author manages to bring to life several bizarre and inventive concepts.