Transport Minister Sindisiwe Chikunga says it was a terrifying and traumatic experience being held up in an armed robbery on the N3 highway between Vosloorus and Heilerberg on Monday morning.
Chikunga, her brother, and two VIP police bodyguards were the victims of the armed robbery, after the vehicle they were in had to stop on the highway to change a tyre.
In an online appearance before the Parliamentary Portfolio Committee on Transport on Tuesday, she said the car hit spikes on the road, and they continued driving for a long distance, “but had to stop because the tyres were too badly damaged”.
Chikunga says she was sitting in the car while two bodyguards changed the tyres, when she heard a noise.
Three armed men with balaclavas descended on the policemen out of nowhere.
“They couldn’t do anything. They were ambushed from behind and held at gunpoint.”
Chikunga tried to call for help on her mobile phone, but one of the robbers opened the door of the vehicle and pressed a pistol to her head, shouting at her to hand over money as they plucked her from the vehicle.
She told the committee members that the three robbers, who spoke fluent Zulu and are in their late 20s or early 30s, silenced her when she prayed out of fear.
“I didn’t want to keep looking for the man who picked me out of the car, because I was afraid he would shoot me.”
The robbers stole the two protectors’ service pistols, a laptop, mobile phones and R200.
Chikunga says the robbers also wanted to take her wedding ring.
“I pleaded with them not to take it because it is all I have left from my late husband. They then left it.”
Before they fled, Chikunga says one of the robbers said: “Here are policemen, I hate the police. I feel like killing the police.”
“I don’t know why they said that,” the Minister said.
The robbers fled without taking an iPad that was in the car. No one was injured. The iPad was then used to call for help.
🎥Our minister of transport was robbed by three armed, well-dressed men at 03:00 on Monday morning. Here she tells what happened and how they pointed a gun to her head. 💔🇿🇦#ministeroftransport #southafrica @TimesLIVE pic.twitter.com/YUc7LodtzG
— Crime documentary filmmaker & journalist (@AJGMolyneaux) November 7, 2023
The police’s Athlenda Mathe described the incident as unprecedented and said an extensive search had been launched for the robbers.
The SAPS is committed to executing its mandate of protecting the executive of the country and community at large. VIP protection is one of the key priority areas for the SAPS and has been undertaken with excellence over the years. We endeavour to continue to serve and protect whilst observing all aspects of our VIP protection protocols.