It was a traumatic and terrifying experience, but the Lord’s grace was with them.
This is what Transport Minister Sindiswe Chikunga said after she and her entourage were the victims of an armed robbery on the N3. She appeared online before the parliamentary portfolio committee on transport on Tuesday where she revealed more information about the incident.
Chikunga’s official car hit iron pins on the N3 between Vosloorus and Heidelberg in the early hours of Monday when she, her brother and two police bodyguards were on their way to Pretoria.
According to Chikunga, they continued driving for a long distance after the car hit the iron pins, but still had to stop to change the tyres. Three armed men wearing balaclavas descended on the bodyguards.
Chikunga tried to call on her mobile phone to call for help when one of the robbers opened her door, pressed a firearm to her head and ordered her to get out of the car. The robbers apparently told her they knew she had money and that she should give it to them. She said that she does not keep cash with her and only has R200 in her handbag.
The robbers robbed the cash, a mobile phone, a laptop and the two policemen’s service pistols. An iPad that was in the car was not stolen and it was used to call for help after the incident. According to Chikunga, the robbers spoke Zulu, were well dressed and did not look like ordinary criminals.
The robbers apparently also wanted to take the minister’s wedding ring, but she pleaded with them not to do so as it was all she had left of her late husband. They then left it.
“We live. The Lord’s mercy was with us,” Chikunga told the committee, adding that she prayed out of fear during the incident.
According to Chikunga, it was strange that the robbers asked her who her “protectors” were as ordinary members of the public would not know that they are not talking about bodyguards but “protectors”.
Brig. Athlenda Mathe, police spokesperson, described the incident as “unheard of” and said a search had been launched for the suspects.
“BDP protection is one of the key priority areas for the SAPS and has been tackled with excellence over the years.”