Toddler taken in CBD hijack drama

A weekend shopping trip to the CBD turned to horror for a family who watched helplessly as hijackers made off with their car and their four-year-old nephew who was strapped in the back.
On Friday afternoon, Khulekani Mazeka brought his two sisters and his little nephew into town to do some shopping. He parked his vehicle near Cambridge Supermarket in Pietermaritz Street and waited with the toddler in the bakkie, a blue Toyota Hilux, while his sister went to do shopping.
“I stepped away from the bakkie for just a minute to buy a packet of chips from a street vendor right next to the van when out of the blue, a man jumped in, reversed out of the parking and sped off,” recalled Mazeka.
“I just didn’t have time to react. It happened so quickly. As the vehicle sped off, I tried running after them. I thought I would never see my little nephew again. Just as I feared the worse, the hijacker stopped, pulled the little boy from the backseat and left him on the pavement before speeding off again,” said the uncle, relieved to have the child back unharmed.
As much as the family is suffering the loss of their vehicle, they are thankful that the hijackers did not harm the child.
“We must thank God that they did not harm the child or steal him from us. That would have been the most painful ordeal ever,” said family members. The stolen vehicle has been spotted around Pietermaritzburg.
“On Friday, we received a call from a private number stating they had spotted the vehicle in Pelham. Another call said the vehicle was seen in Oribi,” said Mazeka. He urged anyone with information regarding the vehicle to contact SAPS. The light blue Toyota Hilux registration number is NJ 25336.
Colonel Thembeka Mbele from SAPS KwaZulu-Natal Media Centre confirmed the incident. “A case of theft of a motor vehicle was opened at Pietermaritzburg Police Station for investigation. Luckily the child was left unharmed,” stated Colonel Mbele.
Julie Todd, director of PMB Child and Family Welfare, cautioned that children should not be left unattended in a vehicle or at home, even if it is just for a few minutes.
“Apart from it being unsafe in regards to crime, children can become ill especially in the hot weather and suffer heat strokes.”
With the festive season fast approaching, Todd urged parents to make the necessary arrangements to ensure the safety of children, particularly when shopping in busy areas and in shopping centres.
“If you have children, it is your responsibility to ensure you make the necessary arrangements in advance if you are going shopping or on an outing where you are unable to take your children with you.”
Recently, security at two city shopping centres had to intervene when parents left their young children strapped and locked in their vehicles while they went shopping.
In one incident, a three-month-old baby was left alone and strapped in his car seat. The crying child was discovered by a car guard. In the second incident, a two year-old and four year-old were found locked in a car, prompting police to break the window to free the children who were then treated by paramedics for heat exhaustion.

  AUTHOR
Bongeka Sibisi and Keroshini Paltu

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