A woman has spoken about the kidnapping ordeal she endured after catching a taxi in Observatory earlier this year.
Phindiwe Yawa believes the phone call she got from her mother on Friday morning July 28 was a harbinger of the nightmare waiting for her on the taxi she caught minutes later.
Her mother had called asking if she way okay. She said she was fine but asked what had sparked the question.
“She told me that she dreamt about me dying.”
She would have cause to remember her mother’s chilling words soon after getting on the taxi, which headed to town with only three people: the driver, the gaartjie and another female passenger.
The taxi took a road between Pick n Pay and Groote Schuur. Phindiwe thought they were trying to get more passengers from the hospital. Instead the other woman got off, leaving her alone with the driver and the gaartjie.
When the taxi driver turned away from the route to town Phindiwe was going to ask him where they were going. She didn’t get a chance.
“Immediately the gaartjie punched me in the face.”
He pushed Ms Yawa’s face down onto the floor of the taxi, sat on her back and covered her face with the pillow.
“What do you want? What do you want?” Ms Yawa screamed.
“Shut up or I’ll kill you,” replied the gaartjie. He was a young coloured man with short hair, Nike Air Force takkies and a gun that he shoved in her face.
He said they wouldn’t hurt her if she did what they said. They’d kill her if she didn’t.
“I immediately thought about my conversation with my mom. Then I knew I was going to die.”
Ms Yawa noticed the taxi was now on the M3 heading to Muizenberg. Panicked, she asked them again what they wanted and begged them not to kill her, not to rape her. She told them she had three young boys.
“They never replied.”
About half an hour later, the driver stopped somewhere along the mountain. He searched Ms Yawa’s bag, took out her bank cards and demanded her pin numbers. She gave them to him.
“He then wanted me to unlock my Samsung phone which had a pattern and asked me to give him my Absa app password and I gave it to him.”
The gaartjie took her watch and sunglasses and watched her while the driver went to draw her money at an ATM.
“I asked him again not to hurt me, and asked him why they are doing this. He then answered me that he doesn’t want to do this, it’s the driver, and he told me that it’s not the first time they are doing it.”
The driver was angry when he returned to the taxi.
He had withdrawn R3 000 at an ATM but had reached the withdrawal limit and when he tried again at another machine the card was blocked. He threatened to kill Ms Yawa. He told her to call her mother and get her to send R10 000, but she refused. Her mother is 72 and a diabetic and Ms Yawa didn’t want to frighten her. So she offered to phone a friend instead.
Things were now on a knife-edge in the taxi. The driver had picked up masking tape at a garage to bind Ms Yawa’s hands and feet and tape her mouth and eyes shut.
“Then they turned me around still lying down with my face facing up this time. Then I became more uncomfortable because my body was exposed. But I just prayed that they mustn’t kill or rape me.”
The taxi again headed towards the mountainside, where the tape was removed from Ms Yawa’s mouth and the driver asked if she could see.
“But I was lying as the other eye could see the driver, but he then noticed that I can see and he was very furious as he instructed the gaartjie to put more tape around my eyes.”
She was warned to only tell her friend that she was in danger and no more.
The friend did a R1 000 cash transfer that the kidnappers collected at a shop. It was far short of the R10 000 the kidnappers wanted, but they were desperate to buy drugs.
“They offered me a smoke, but I refused,” says Ms Yawa.
The gaartjie now wanted to let Ms Yawa go, but the driver didn’t. The two scuffled inside the taxi and the driver put his food down on the accelerator, but as the taxi lurched forward, the gaartjie pushed Ms Yawa out the door with her hands still tied.
“I fell in the road and tried to loosen the tape, I screamed for help, and that is when I noticed that I was dumped at Wetton station.”
A woman who was dropping her daughter off at the station came to her aid. Still in a state of shock, Ms Yawa sat on the pavement wondering how she had managed to escape.
Someone called her mother who came through to take her to the Woodstock police station.
Ms Yawa believes she is still alive because she stayed calm and co-operated with her abductors.
“I believed if I cried they were gonna panic and end up doing stupid things.”
To confirm she had reported the incident to the police, Ms Yawa presented the Tatler with a case number, but by the time this edition went to print, Woodstock police had not responded to questions emailed to them about this case..