Posted by: Andries Louw | 3 March 2010

Today I was hijacked and I love South Africa!

Yes, you heard me correctly and I’m not mad and I’m not in denial. Today I experienced firsthand how the informal networks in my local communities collaborated to help, support and care for me as a victim of crime and how these networks linked with the police to hunt down suspects. No arrests have been made yet but I will not be surprised if it happens within the next 24 to 48 hours.

This morning I was on my way to visit a friend in Alexandra when I stopped at a red traffic light around 11:10. Before it turned green I saw a hand coming through the open window and I heard a voice instructing me to leave the key and my cell phone and to hurry up and get out of the car quickly.

The voice, which strangely enough didn’t sound aggressive, belonged to a young man in his early twenties. I looked down at his other hand that was pointing a firearm at my abdomen inside the car. I thought it looked like a toy gun but I didn’t want to take any chances so I just followed instructions. He had two buddies on the other side, one also with a firearm, or was it a toy gun?

They quickly sped off with my car which also contained a bag with some cash, my wallet with all the important cards that are so irritatingly difficult to replace and my beloved cell phone – eish…

The first person to help me was a total stranger who operates an informal public phone business right there on the corner where I was hijacked. He allowed me to call my wife free of charge. The firestation let me make a few more phone calls.

An eyewitness told me that he knows one of the suspects. He accompanied me and two friends to the police station. My friend who lives in a shack with his parents paid the taxi fare for the four of us. They stayed with me all the time and allowed me to use their cell phones as needed. One of them, a new friend, called me again tonight to hear how I was and how my family was.

They gathered excellent information about the suspect and my car was recovered around 14:30, just a few blocks away from the crime scene. The Alexandra police were very helpful and professional.

The gardener/caretaker at the property where we rent a home drove to the police station twice to assist me. On our way home he dropped me at our local community police chief who passed all the relevant information on to a community policing contact in Alex to be followed up. I was informed that an arrest could be expected soon.

My dear wonderful lovely wife Cecile not only organised lunch and a bottle of water to be delivered to me at the police station but also took care of a lot of other calls and arrangements. She even organised me a new temporary cell phone nr complete with sim card in my old phone. Email me at learnmylanguage at gmail dot com with your name to get my new nr.

I was never scared. Instead I felt loved and cared for. I’m very grateful that I wasn’t hurt. After today I love South Africa even more because the majority of our people hate crime and injustice.  Tonight I feel an incredible peace and a special solidarity with the victims of crime who have come off far worse than me. Most importantly I sense that we will not be overcome with hopelessness and dispair. By the grace of God we will overcome.



  1. How do I comment on this in a way that adds value?

    I certainly applaud you for your forgiving nature. This is an amazing trait that I have discovered for myself as a war veteran. Forgiveness is a powerful thing indeed. Catharsis of the highest order to forgive. It actually places the victim in a more powerful position than the perpetrator. This is the foundation of the Christian faith, where Jesus said he forgave them because they knew not what they were doing.

    On the other hand this story is a sad indictment of our society where we accept crime as being normal and feel relieved when we have become victims and survived. This is a complex pathology that I am now starting to see play out in society around me.

    Unfortunately most are not as forgiving and revenge drives such people. I am seeing this more and more. The backlash to crime, poor service delivery and a range of other issues related to expactations that have not been met through our young democracy. This is about anger, frustration, the witholding of taxes and a range of other acts of civil disobedience.

  2. Wow Andries! I’m amazed at your positivity & grace! I love you SO much my brother, and I am SO grateful that you are still with us and for the person that you are!

  3. I am so proud of my husband for taking such a negative situation and choosing to see the positive in it.

    Andries you are an inspiration to me through your optimisim that remains realistic and your constant choice to believe in the good and godly nature of our fellow human beings. I love you for it!

    Andries is a realist, he does not pretend that evil does not dwell amongst us, he is very much aware of the fact but he chooses not to allow evil to engulf his approach to people and his life.

    He actively chooses to allow people the benefit of the doubt, to invite them to interact with him in a meaningful way, and daily he allows himself to open up to the possibility of love, care and help from the community he is engaging with.

    That is why he has benefited from an awful situation. He is not afraid to approach people, be it the shacks of Alexandra or the streets of Sandton. He is not afraid to allow them to reach out to him even when it is in that very community that he was attacked. He refuses to let the reality of evil cloud the truth that South Africans are good, loving, honest and helpful.

    We need more of this attitude in our beautiful country. We need less hiding away of our own little kingdoms behind high walls of fear and paranoia and more opening up of doors to the possibility of communion, community and the intimate participation of koinonia.

  4. I think you might enjoy this post — The Hitchhiker: Thicket & Thorp.

    What he feared is what you got, but God knows best.

  5. Bly jy is veilig. Ai tog!

  6. Anthony, I am grateful for the fact that I survived this ordeal BUT to me it was not a matter of accepting crime as being normal.

    Rather I was overwhelmed by the love, care and support I received from total strangers, two friends and the police in Alexandra. An eyewitness provided information about one of the suspects. My friends helped to fill in the blanks and the leader of the community policing forum in Linbro Park called his contact in Alex to follow it up.

    All of this left me with a sense of empowerment. It restored my hope for South Africa because I realised that communities are NOT accepting crime as just being normal. Instead they are organising themselves in informal networks and assisting the police to help restore some form of justice.

    …and this is only the beginning. I realised yesterday that this experience is starting to open up a whole new perspective for me. I hope to write more posts on this in the following days so watch this space – actually the space above.

  7. Hi Andries, bly jy’s OK. Your testimony is powerful and real, if I may say so. Thanks for that. R

  8. Andries, I am very sorry about what happened to you……..but so grateful that you were not physically harmed during the heinous crime and also that you choose to overcome the experience by valuing your wonderful life-sustaining support system. Grace and peace to you, Monica

  9. Wonderlike getuiens Andries! Prys die Here jy is OK. Mis die goeie tye wat ons saam in SA gehad het. Jou broer Ferdie Mulder uit Nederland

  10. Beste Andries

    Wat ‘n ervaring en die wyse waarop jy dit hanteer het.
    Ons dank ons Hemelse Vader dat Hy jou ook (veral) daar in Sy beskerming geneem het.

    Pieter Strobos

  11. Ferdie, goed om weer van jou te hoor! Dankie vir julle almal se kommentaar, Els, Cecile, Gawie, Rudi.

    Monica, yes the support system was amazing and I believe that our future lies exactly in the strength of our support systems.

    Steve, thanks for the link to the hitchhiker story. I did enjoy it and felt that it was very relevant to my experience.

    I am planning to write more about this incident soon as it was a cathartic experience for me where many of the issues we are currently facing in South Africa came very close to my body in one encounter.

  12. What a fantastic testimony Andries! Maybe if we could all adopt the same attitude as you have, we really could have a better S.A. 🙂 Your positivity is amazing! Your wife sounds like a wonderful lady and you’re very blessed to have each other. Well done on your post, you really have inspired me 🙂

  13. […] I feel passionate about this after my own hijacking ordeal 2 weeks ago. […]

  14. Hi Andries,
    We thank God for protecting you and for sending His angels to help you and be able to recognise those poor souls who hijacked you. It is very sad that most of the victims are people who are so committed interms of helping the most disadvantages in our communities.

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