Sunday, 22 October 2006

The angels heard me, says ex-rugby player

October 20 2006 at 06:00PM

By Alex Eliseev

As former rugby player Swys Joubert fought for his life against three gun-wielding hijackers, his young son and daughter were all he could think about.

Just after midnight Joubert wrestled his attackers on Griswold Street, Saxonwold, Johannesburg, and shot a 26-year-old would-be robber dead.

Speaking to The Star on Friday morning, the former wing battled to hold back tears as he revealed this was the third hijacking he had survived on the streets of Joburg.

'This time I fought for my life for my children'

He said the robbers had sworn at him, smashed a gun over his head and tried to pull him inside the car to deactivate his tracking system. This, he realised, meant certain death. What he feared more than anything was his eight- and 10-year-old children growing up without a father.

"Last time I was driving with my small boy. I just closed my eyes and told them to take anything they wanted," Joubert said. "This time I fought for my life for my children."

The rugby meeting in Sunnyside Park, which he had attended, had run late and Joubert had been driving his Mercedes Benz and checking his phone messages. Suddenly, he said, a car with three men had appeared at his side.

"I didn't think they were hijackers. They were getting too close and I thought they were looking for a fight. They looked like troublemakers," he said.

"I turned off to take another route but they forced me off the road and jumped out with guns."

'I can't believe this is the third time. It's enoug'

Joubert said it had been all over in seconds. First they ordered him to switch off his Tracker. He told them it was already off.

"They were pulling me into the car. They swore at me and told me they were going to shoot me. I grabbed the gun and a shot went off just past my left ear," he said, adding that he was still deaf in that ear.

"We started wrestling. I had to face the barrel (of the gun) away from me. The guy was on top of me and I didn't even hear the shot go off. They were cowards. None of the others shot while we fought."

As soon as the attackers drove off in Joubert's car, he ran a few metres into Oxford Road to wave down cars.

"The angels heard me and two cops came to help me."

While Joubert, who lives in Houghton, is happy to be alive, he is also furious about the crime rate.

"I can't believe this is the third time. It's enough. You're not safe just driving on the streets," he said. "It's absurd and has to stop."

Police have, meanwhile, found Joubert's car.

A close friend, Ian Lebitt, was with Joubert minutes before the incident. He too was outraged at the attack and said the government had to take urgent action against crime.

Phil Le Feuvre, who lives in the house outside which the shooting took place, said of the scene about half an hour after the incident: "I've never seen so many policemen."

Police on Friday also arrested eight would-be robbers who held security guards at gunpoint and tried to rob a Jumbo Cash and Carry wholesaler in Devland.

The gang had just robbed a nearby firm of computers before they stormed into the wholesaler.

Police spokesperson Sefako Xaba said one robber had waited outside the gate with an AK-47 rifle.

The men held a security guard at gunpoint at the gate and robbed him of his firearm.

When they entered the premises, the security guards called the police.

The robbers fled in five vehicles when police arrived.

A car chase ensued, and police stopped a BMW, a Peugeot and a VW Microbus on East Road towards Nasrec. However, an Audi A4 and a bakkie drove away.

Xaba said four firearms had been recovered, two 38 Specials, one 45 and a Norinco 9mm. Police also confiscated computers in the VW believed to have been stolen from the firm next to the wholesaler.

"We're not sure how many suspects were in the A4 and the bakkie. We believe other firearms were in the other two vehicles," Xaba said.


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