Monday, 18 February 2008

We're useless, says cop after hijacking

February 18 2008 at 06:31AM

By Shaun Smillie

"Listen, we can't help you. Go to the newspapers."

This was the advice of a police officer to a motorist who just minutes earlier had stabbed an armed would-be hijacker in the neck.

And that is just what Matt, who did not want to be named, did on Friday. He told The Star of how, in the space of a week, he had become a victim of crime twice, and on both occasions, after resisting his attackers, was failed by the law.

Matt said he was driving in Biccard Street, Braamfontein, on Friday morning when he stopped at a set of traffic lights. A week earlier, he had been a victim of a smash-and-grab not far from there. Still shaken from the experience, Matt said he had placed a Leatherman tool, with the blade unfolded, next to his seat.

"Suddenly, there was a man at the window with a gun. He told to me to get out."

With cars all around him and no one coming to assist him, Matt said he ran his hand down the seat belt until he found the Leatherman.

"I grabbed the Leatherman and swung with all my might. The blade just went in, and I then turned the blade."

The hijacker fired a shot. Fortunately the bullet missed Matt's arm and struck the console just below the car radio.

Matt, who had cut his thumb in the process, then sped off.

He believes he stabbed the robber in the neck. Initially, he thought the man had run off with the Leatherman still stuck in him. However, he later found the bloodstained knife in the back of his car.

Shortly after the attack, Matt went to a nearby satellite police station to report the incident.

"I wanted them to put up a notice or something, to warn people that hijackings are happening in the area.

"But the police officer told me that 'The police are useless, we can't help you. You must go to the newspapers'."

The police officer, an inspector, also told Matt to call on the government to start policing the city centre properly.

Matt claims the police officer didn't advise him to open a case, and he eventually left.

Police spokesperson Superintendent Thembi Nkhwashu said Matt should approach the station commander at Johannesburg Central police station to lay a complaint.

"It is important that he opens a case so that we can investigate. If it happened like this, it would be unacceptable behaviour by the police officer."

Following this advice, Matt reported the incident to Johannesburg Central police station on Friday. He also laid a complaint through the police's hotline.

A week before the attempted hijacking, Matt was the victim of a smash-and-grab in Simmonds Street in the CBD. He was text-messaging a friend when someone grabbed his phone.

"I pulled him into the car and punched him in the face."

The man broke free and fled. Matt gave chase, but wasn't able to catch the thug. When he got back to his car, he discovered he had been given a R500 parking ticket.

"The police officer gives me a ticket, but surely he had seen what happened and should have assisted me."

Joburg metro police spokesperson Chief Superintendent Wayne Minnaar said Matt should explain what had happened to a public prosecutor and possibly get the fine revoked.

This article was originally published on page 2 of The Star on February 18, 2008


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