A friend of mine survived a hijacking in rush hour traffic by fending off two assailants. So I asked him if he wouldn’t mind writing about his experience. You can read all about it in his own words below.
The news in South Africa is ripe with stories of hijackings, assault, home robberies, and murder. And let’s not even touch on the plethora of cash-in-transit heists and mall robberies. We tend to read about these events as one would a nice story about a local hero helping someone with a broken down car. Few ever fully comprehend what actually happens in these situations. On the odd occasion an overconfident bloke will comment “Bru, If I were there I would’ve done this, and that, and the other”.
The same can be said regarding the constant battle between gun ownership campaigners and the gun-free nuts; a typical person reading these stories usually doesn’t understand what is really at stake. Although I was always leaning towards the gun rights side of the debate, it took one fateful event on a Monday morning to make me fully understand the gravity of the situation.
My normal Monday morning routine is to leave for work at around 5AM. Due to our 3-year-old being under the weather, I decided to only attempt the Pretoria-Johannesburg commute after peak traffic. As usual I got out of bed, showered, dressed, and strapped my H&K P30 9mm to my waistband. Exactly as I have done almost every morning for the past 7 years. I carry appendix (AIWB for the initiated) on my right side over my work shirt. Until I get to work, where I conceal my firearm under my shirt with a suitable undershirt holster. I completed my morning ritual of packing my bag, greeting the wife, and getting in the car to drive to work.
Usually I am very aware of my surroundings. But this specific morning I was on autopilot due to a lack of decent rest the night before. Big mistake.
I reached the Rivonia offramp on the N1 South around 9AM. The same route I have always taken for over a decade without incident. The traffic light turned red and I stopped in a queue of vehicles, being in one of the middle lanes about two or three cars from the front. I must note that I usually drive with the driver’s side window a sliver open. Just enough for air, but not enough for someone to reach into the car.
As I stopped, my mind was preoccupied with everything that had to be done at work, and where I would start. Over my right shoulder I noticed, in my peripheral vision, a man approaching my window. He was already a bit too close for comfort. I initially thought it was just another beggar or street vendor, as some of them are occasionally brazen enough to ply their trade on the offramp. But I instinctively lowered my right hand to the window console to fully close my window. I assumed the look-straight-ahead position and prepared the “No, sorry” reply. “Do you have a cigarette sir?” I don’t smoke. Before I could reply, I noticed the proximity of the guy’s face to my open window, and I realized something wasn’t right.
“Shit, this is happening!” flew through my mind as a split second later my window lowered a bit, making me think I accidentally pushed the open button. As I turned my head to face the man (whilst simultaneously trying to close my window), I saw that an accomplice had joined him. He lightly tapped my window with a 9mm pistol (a Vektor Z88 or lookalike); “Get out of the car!” he demanded.
I don’t know why I did what I did next.
Maybe it was instinct. Maybe on some level I was trying to distract the fucker with a gun pointed at me. Either way, my first reaction was to reply “No! No! No! Why do you want my car? You can’t have it: it’s not yours”. At the same I inadvertently released some pressure on the brake pedal, causing the car to inch forward a bit. Perhaps it was a very stupid thing to do and say, but what it achieved was to agitate and distract the two criminals. They looked away for a moment (presumably at the other cars and surroundings for danger), and the bloke with the firearm lowered it (an attempt to conceal?).
I then unholstered my firearm, leaned to the left, and aimed it square at the chest of the closest hijacker. Whilst also instinctively (in very clear and colorful words) indicating that they should relocate themselves immediately. By the time the first muppet noticed my weapon I could’ve fired one round. Maybe two. But for some inexplicable reason I didn’t. As if both assailants realized simultaneously that they no longer have the upper hand, and that shit is about to get very real, they ducked and ran in different directions like bats out of Hell.
The next few minutes are a bit of a blur. Adrenaline isn’t conducive to long term memory storage, but I do know I drove away and stopped in a nearby parking lot, where the lady in the car behind me followed to check if everything is OK.
The whole ordeal lasted just North of 5 seconds, but will probably occupy my thoughts for months.
Recalling the events, I am not sure if I did things right. Should I have been paying more attention? Yes. Could the situation have been totally avoided? Maybe. Should I have fired a hollow point round at the heart of someone who threatened my life, rather than shout and hesitate? I don’t know. Would I do it differently if I could have a do-over? All that I do know for certain is that however I got in the situation, the threat of force and my firearm got me out of it.
If I didn’t carry a firearm, I would’ve been without a car at best. Or without my life at worst.
I also now know that I was very lucky things turned out the way they did, considering the limited amount of training I have with my firearm regarding situations where the use of force under duress it required. I will be booking the next available slot in defensive firearm training as soon as I can. And using my other set of eyes on a permanent basis.
Written by Tinus*
*Tinus is an anonymous native of Gauteng, and has been a responsible gun owner for several years.