Shock as would-be abductor is unmasked

A Table View man escaped what appears to have been an attempted hi-jacking and kidnapping by a former co-worker.

Johannes Benjamin van der Westhuizen, 62, was lured to View Church’s parking lot in Table View shortly after 2pm on Thursday July 27 by a WhatsApp message on his work phone from someone who wanted to buy a car battery. Mr Van der Westhuizen is a sales rep for a business in Epping that specialises in all types of batteries.

“He told me in the (WhatsApp) message that he was a musical director at View Church and said his name was Adam Smith.

He said I should meet him at 2pm and that I should park on the side of the church,” Mr Van der Westhuizen said.

Mr Van der Westhuizen drove with his work vehicle to the meeting place. When he arrived at the church, he found no one there.

He asked the church staff if they knew Adam Smith but they did not.

He decided to leave and when he was about to close his car door, a masked man pressed an object into his side and shouted at him to get into the back of his car.

“I thought it was a gun because I saw a barrel,” he said.

He fought with his assailant, grabbing the hand he thought was holding a gun and sat on it.

“I tried to grab the mask off his face but he got away,” he said.

Mr Van der Westhuizen gave chase and saw the suspect dropping a knife while he was running. An unknown vehicle started assisting in the chase for the suspect and Mr Van der Westhuizen decided to return to his vehicle.

“I had to go back because the van’s door was open. I found a dummy gun on the car seat made up of a pipe and wooden handle taped together.”

He then returned to the spot where he had left the chase and saw that the man was being apprehended by a member of the public. When the mask was pulled from the suspect’s face Mr Van der Westhuizen was shocked to see that it was a former colleague of his.

“He was a sales rep as well and left the company about two months ago. We deal with cash in our business as well and we have to put it in the bank on the same day or latest the next day.

“Apparently he kept money for more than a week before he put it in the bank and the employers said he had to go.

“Police told me he said in his statement that he was going to tie me up and drop me in Montague Gardens to show that he could ‘do the job’. It doesn’t make sense to me. Maybe he wanted his job back,” said Mr Van Der Westhuizen.

Table View police spokesperson Captain Adriana Chandler said the suspect was from Belhar. She said when he was arrested they found duct tape, gloves, box cutters and a garotte on him.

He appeared in the Cape Town Magistrate’s Court on Monday July 31 and was charged with attempted hi-jacking and intent to do grievous bodily harm.