Tuesday, 10 October 2006

Woman survives bloody hijacking ordeal

Graeme Hosken

October 10 2006 at 04:34AM

A Pretoria woman came within inches of losing her life after a gunman opened fire on her at point-blank range, shooting her five times before leaving her for dead in a botched hijacking.

The attack, one of two in Centurion at the weekend, happened as 30-year-old Sandra du Plessis arrived home on Friday night.

Recovering in Unitas Hospital, Du Plessis, a financial adviser for Sanlam, said on Monday: "As I turned into my street I saw a car driving slowly in front of me before turning around and coming towards me.

"As it drove past I saw the people looking at me and immediately felt that something was wrong."

'Everything seemed to happen at the speed of light'

Opening her front gate, Du Plessis spotted the car racing towards her. Leaping into her Golf Tdi and reversing, Du Plessis watched in horror as a man armed with a handgun leapt from the vehicle and ran towards her, firing as he chased after her.

All seven bullets struck the car's driver door and window.

Two narrowly missed her head while five hit her in the right arm, left arm, stomach and back, missing her vital organs by millimetres.

Bleeding profusely, Du Plessis was ordered from the vehicle by the "frighteningly" calm gunman, who watched her stumble screaming towards her house before getting back into his accomplices' car after fiddling with her car's ignition.

Du Plessis, who was rushed inside by neighbours and her sister Gerda, underwent surgery on Sunday to reconstruct her shattered right arm.

'They were like something from hell'

"Everything seemed to happen at the speed of light. One minute the car was driving past me and the next a man was shooting me.

"I did not know what was happening. It was chaos. I thought I was dying," said Du Plessis, who added that she thought her attacker was going to kill her when he ordered her from the car.

Du Plessis's sister said she was inside their home studying when she heard loud bangs and then screams.

"I will never forget those screams. They were like something from hell."

Running outside, Gerda du Plessis found her sister collapsed against a fence, blood pouring from her stomach, arms and back. "I couldn't believe that she was alive. There was so much blood," she said.

Police spokesperson Inspector Katlego Mogale confirmed the attack, saying that an attempted murder docket had been opened.

She added that the attack was one of two which occurred in Centurion at the weekend.

Unitas Hospital spokesperson Corne Bekker said two people were brought into the hospital for emergency gunshot wound treatment following separate attacks at the weekend.

"There has been a definite increase in the number of people who have been admitted as victims of violent crimes. This increase has been over just the past year in the Centurion area," she said.

This article was originally published on page 3 of Pretoria News on October 10, 2006


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