How I survived a kidnapping - City woman narrates

The ordeal has damaged her psychologically.

Piece by: BBC NEWS

• Speaking about the kidnapping, she said, "My father is not a man who cries, but he got teary. He kept on feeling like he could have protected me. There's still a part of me that actually died on that day."

Crime: police barrier
Crime: police barrier
Image: FILE

Lesego Tau did not panic at first when a stranger opened the back door of her grey Mercedes C-Class and climbed in.

She had parked outside a shopping mall in Johannesburg and was focused on texting a friend before going in to grab a few items for a get-together that evening.

"In my rearview mirror, I was looking and still thinking: 'This person is going to be so embarrassed when they realise they are in the wrong car'," she told the BBC, recounting the events of last June.

But this was not an innocent mistake.

"Our gazes locked and I realised what was happening."

This was a kidnapping.

Six months earlier, businessman Yasin Bhiku was grabbed in the driveway of his home, near Johannesburg, just after returning from the mosque.

CCTV footage that was widely seen on social media shows Mr Bhiku dressed in a blue T-shirt and black trousers calmly chatting to a friend.

Two men can be seen getting out of the car parked opposite. At first, they stroll towards him but then rush at him after Mr Bhiku realises what is going on and tries to flee.

He was overpowered and forced into the vehicle at gunpoint. The businessman was later found unharmed and rescued by the police.

Ms Tau, who runs her own cleaning company in Pretoria, also tried to flee once she had figured out that she was about to be abducted.

She said she tried opening the door of her car, but another man, dressed as a parking attendant in a hi-vis jacket, blocked the door.

The man in the back seat showed that he had a gun and ordered Ms Tau to drive out of the shopping complex.

Along the way, she was told to stop and someone else jumped into her car.

Once in the countryside, about 15km (nine miles) into the terrifying journey, the kidnappers ordered Ms Tau to stop.

A red car then arrived at the scene and someone got out, took her bank cards and forced her to reveal her security codes.

"The other people from the car… started going through all my different cards. They were withdrawing [money]."

At the same time, her captors were repeatedly hitting her on the head with the gun, ordering her to increase her withdrawal limit.

The ordeal went on for over four hours.

At one point she heard someone on the other end of a phone call say: "Just finish her off. We are done."

"I made peace that they were going to kill me, but I thought, I need to fight. I have to fight. If they are going to kill me, I might as well fight," Ms Tau said.

She fought her way out of the car, but the kidnappers grabbed her and started hitting and scratching her. She got away and ran across the road into the oncoming traffic.

Ms Tau was lucky that she managed to get away, but her kidnappers took $1,400 (£1,100).

The ordeal has damaged her psychologically and left her family distressed.

"My father is not a man who cries, but he got teary. He kept on feeling like he could have protected me.

"There's still a part of me that actually died on that day."

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