Durban – A Phoenix family almost fell prey to the scam after enduring a traumatising hijacking at an Overport cemetery.
The Phoenix family relayed their ordeal to the Daily News on Thursday, on condition of anonymity.
A schoolteacher, her husband and two young daughters had gone to the cemetery in Overport on Wednesday after completing back-to-school shopping in the city centre.
Her husband had parked their silver-grey Golf GTi on the side of the road and the family had been reciting verses from the Qur’an when they were approached by three men.
“They ran and pointed guns at us. They said we would not be harmed. One of them patted me down to check if I had a handbag or purse.
One of the men started the car while the other two waited with the family. She said they pushed the gun into her husband’s chest and asked him if he had a tracker and a firearm.
After the men fled, the family ran to a nearby school for help.
The teacher said she had sent out a WhatsApp alert to her family who then spread her message on other social media platforms in an attempt to find the car.
Hours after their hijacking, the teacher said she received a text saying their car was at a panelbeater in Durban’s Point area and that the car would be crossing the border once the respray was completed.
She became sceptical when she was asked for money in exchange for the car’s location. After a series of back-and-forth texts, the person on the other end stopped the chat with a profanity when the teacher apparently tried to persuade him to divulge information on the condition of the car and when she asked what bank she should deposit the money into.
According to Allistair Singo, vehicle tracking company Altech Netstar’s spokesman, this type of scam was also used in Gauteng and sometimes the message sender claimed to be a policeman.
“We urge the public not to fall for these scams,” Singo said.
Chetty said there were many incidents of robbery at cemeteries in the past two years. It was not only mourners who were being targeted but undertakers too, he said. Criminals stole expensive equipment that was used to lower people into the graves, he said.