Thelma's horrifying hijack ordeal


These are the words of the victim, Thelma Smith

At 5.00 pm on the 6th August 2013I left the offices of The Open Door Crisis Care Centre and proceeded to Pinecrest Centre where I made purchases at Game.  I arrived back at The Open Door Crisis Care Centre at 5.30 pm.

I drove into the parking lot at The Open Door.  A black man appeared from nowhere and forced himself into the car, forcing me into the passenger seat.  He had a gun and threatened to shoot me.  Two more black men appeared and climbed into the back of the car.  I started to scream and the man in the front punched me in the face telling me to shut up.

The perpetrators drove off forcing me into the back of the car.   The man at the back of the car forced my head down between my legs.

I am not sure in which direction they drove as I could not see.  They demanded my bank cards and my pin numbers which I gave them.  They were confused as to what the cards were as they were looking at my Edgars, Woolworths, medical aid and other cards I had in my purse.  They eventually found the correct banking cards.  They could not remember the pin numbers which I gave them and asked me for a pen to write the numbers down.

During all this the man at the back kept pushing my head down and threatening me with a gun and would rape me if I did not do as they asked.

I am not sure in which direction they drove, but it was a very rough untarred road and assumed I was taken into the location area.

They kept asking me if the car had a tracking system.  I insisted the car did not.  They stopped the car several times and started to pull the car to pieces looking for the tracker.  With my head still between my legs they insisted I tell them where the tracker was.  They continued to stop several times and continued to dismantle the car tearing the dashboard out ripping the roof  out and smashing the side fender of the car.

My sister, Thora Mansfield, kept phoning me on my cell, and the men kept advising me to answer my cell phone and telling Thora I was alright and would be back at the office soon.

Thora phoned me several times each time asking where I was.  Thora asked me to give her one word to indicate where I was, the only word I could think of was “human”  Those words were significant to her as we deal with human trafficking.
The man at the back demanded my three rings, my watch and my pearl necklace.    The man started to search my body asking me where I had hidden my money.  At one stage he tried to put his hand down the back of my pants I started to whimper and he told me to stop the noise.  He removed his hand and continued to push my head down.

The men at the front stopped several times, assuming looking for a ATM.  Eventually they stopped again, the two men in the front got out and the man at the back climbed into the driver’s seat.

During this time he questioned me about where I worked and how many kids I had saying if I did not tell me where the tracker was he would shoot me and the kids would have no mother.

I kept insisting there was no tracker in the car advising me they would shoot and rape me if I did not give them what they wanted.

Still shouting at me to keep my head down, he drove around the area, At one stage I lifted my head and saw Kwadengezi Shopping centre.  The driver was obviously not an experienced driver as he could not drive and the car kept jerking and cutting off.

The driver eventually went back to assuming where the other two men had been dropped off.The two men climbed back in the car and drove off.  The driver eventually stopped the car and threw me out of the car onto the road,  they also threw my cell phone out of the car.

As I was not sure where I was I tried to get my bearings. It would appear I was in a built up area in Kwadengezi. I walked to one of the houses looking for a gate to enter the premises when a young black lady and her boyfriend found me. I told them I had been hijacked and they took me to the Kwadengezi police station where, Penolipe advised the residing police officer what had happened.  I gave them my name but no statement had been taken.

During the above period my sister Thora phoned 1011 to report that I was missing, then contacted Brian Dafel , Colonel of the Organised Crime SAPs, who is also a member of the board of The open Door Crisis Care Centre. Two board members of the Open Door brought Thora to the Kwadengezi police station where we proceeded to Pinetown Police Station to make a statement.

The perpetrators drove the car to the shongweni area where they were spotted by the Knine dog unit police who passed them on the road.  Because of their bad driving the Knine unit turned their car around and chased the perpetrators who everntually drove into the sugar cane fields.

The dogs were let loose and chased the perpetrators who opened fire on the police, one the dogs attacked the one man and in the cross fire of shooting the perpetrator  was shot by the police killing him.

The other two men disappeared into the sugar cane.

We then proceeded to the area in Shongweni where the perpetrators had left the car in the sugar cane fields.

On return to the office we cancelled my credit cards, but was advised that money had been drawn out of my credit card.

 [button url=”#” color=”green” size=”large”]This is a heinous crime against an elderly woman. As a society we have to stand up and get angry about this. We cannot tolerate violence on this level against our women and children. Show your anger, and support the Open Door in its fight against violence in all forms. Thank you Thelma for sharing your story, all of KZNWIB’s love and support are behind you.[/button]

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DATE                         :         7 AUGUST 2013
Last night, 6 August 2013 at approximately 19:30 members of the K9 Unit were on patrol at Hillcrest when they received a report of a hijacking in the Shongweni area. They immediately were on the lookout for the vehicle and a short while later spotted a vehicle fitting the same description given to them in the Hillcrest area.  When police attempted to pull over the vehicle the suspects sped off with police giving chase. As the suspects were fleeing they lost control of the vehicle and crashed. It is alleged that they then opened fire at the police and police returned fire. One of the suspects was fatally wounded during the shootout whilst two others managed to escape.
A 78-year-old woman was at a parking area in Windsor Road when she was approached by three suspects at approximately 17:30 yesterday afternoon. It is alleged that she was assaulted before the suspects drove away with her in her vehicle. She was later dropped off at KwaNdengezi where received assistance from members of community who took her to the local police station. A case of carjacking and kidnapping was opened at Pinetown Police Station for further investigation and they vehicle was circulated to all units on the air.
KwaZulu-Natal Provincial Commissioner, Lieutenant General Mmamonnye Ngobeni was pleased by the swift reaction by police that prevented these suspects from committing further crimes. “Had police not stopped these thugs in their tracks they would have caused further harm to innocent members of the community. I hope that this sends a clear message to criminals that our members are always available to react to crimes in progress and we will not be deterred by criminals shooting at police officers in an attempt to evade justice,” she said.
KwaZulu-Natal: Media Centre
South African Police Service
Corporate Communication

Posted in

Mel Gard


  1. christine on 16 August 2013 at 4:40 pm

    So sad I have worked at the Open Door and know Thelma well. It is terrible to read about what happened and I hope that she is now ok though I know she will need counselling to come to terms with what has happened. Crime in SA must be stopped!
    The Open Door has done some amazing work and my heart goes out to Thelma and Thora.
    Miss you guys xxxx

  2. Tina Cartwright on 19 August 2013 at 4:45 am

    It was a spine chilling moment to hear Thora on East Coast Radio talking about the ordeal the following day. We thank God that you are safe & will continue to work with you to lessen and eventually eradicate these atrocities in our beautiful country.

  3. Jeshika Ramsunder on 19 August 2013 at 3:38 pm

    Hi I am so sorry for what Thelma went through. On the 1st of August 2013 i had a similar experience but thank God it was not as bad a Thelma’s. I returned to my office in the CBD area (Smith street) Mercury House Building after a lunch meeting around 2pm. I parked my car and as i walked to the lifts which is one parking bay away from my car, a black male came through the staircase exit area and grabbed me from behind. i screamed twice before he put his huge hand over my mouth and held a knife to my neck and put me down to the ground. He then secured his legs around mine so i did not kick, still with his hand over my mouth turning my face to the side so i did not see his face. he pulled my bag off my shoulder and ran off in the same exit. He ripped my bag apart taking only my cell and cash leaving behind all bank cards, car keys and other personal items. I was lucky as he could have done the same by forcing me to drive away or stabbing or raping me as i was alone in the secure car park at that time.

    the next day he was back and thanks to our security guards he was arrested. it appears he is from Congo. in my complex two days later, my neighbor found a man in her upstairs lounge @ 3am in the morning going through her stuff. This guy is suspected to be Nigerian and let in by the security guards who was also a foreigner. We also found out that security companies have been employing these foreigners for cheap labor and without any security experience.

    we need to firstly try and stop these foreigners from entering our country, then clean up our own kind of criminals. the sad thing is that these kind of people are released time and time again to do the very same thing again.

    i have bought a tazer and walk around in fear now wherever i go.
    life should not become so miserable. Woman should make a stand as we should not allow ourselves to be soft targets by these criminals.

    Jeshika Ramsunder