The spokesperson for the Department of Health in Limpopo was hijacked and locked in the boot of his vehicle for over an hour before he was rescued.

The spokesperson for the Limpopo Health Department, Neil Shikwambana was saved from what he termed “certain death” on Friday evening, the 11th of September. This after he was hijacked near Burgersdorp on his way home to his wife and baby.

It is reported that three men hijacked him and loaded him into the boot of his Mercedes C220d before driving off to a secluded section of the dirt road that connects the Julesburg road with the R36 near Ofcolaco. This was at around 19:30 on Friday evening.

Local security company owner, Willie Smit received the call of the hijacked vehicle and with the assistance of another security company managed to locate Shikwambana’s cell phone location. Tracker SA and the SAPS in the area were activated while Smit and his wife Annatjie rushed toward the location of the phone.

Limpopo Health Department spokesperson Neil Shikwambana.

“It was pitch black darkness along that stretch of dirt road and out of the corner of my eye I spotted something reflecting my bakkie’s lights in the dense bush to the side of the road. That’s when we spotted the white vehicle and the suspects in the dark,” recalled Smit.

At that moment, a man came running out of the bush towards the Smits’ vehicle. “I initially thought he was one of the hijackers and almost shot him as he ran up to my driver’s side window. When I pointed my firearm at him, he held his hands up and yelled please, please don’t shoot I have been hijacked.”

Smit said at that moment he saw the suspects in the bush. They were armed and appeared to be heading into the direction of where they were parked, so he fired warning shots to ward them off. It worked. The men ran off into the darkness. The police and other security teams including Tracker SA arrived on scene and a search for the suspects began. Information attained from Shikwambana sent some police members to Maake Plaza where it is believed that the third suspect was busy drawing money from the victim’s bank account.

Bulletin managed to contact Shikwambana the following day over Facebook messenger as his cell phone had been taken by the suspects and we could not reach him there. “That man is my hero” he said. On his Facebook timeline he wrote “And through it all I silently prayed; God is our refuge and strength, an ever-present help in trouble.”

Willie Smit, owner of Wilkie Security and sub-agent to Tracker SA.

“He told me that just moments before our arrival, he had heard his two captors tell each other that they were going to kill him and leave his body next to his vehicle. He said all he could think of was would he ever see his wife and baby again,” said Annatjie.

The Smits’ and Shikwambana have been in contact since. We requested an interview with the spokesperson and his saviours, but at the time of going to print we had not been able to get all parties together in one place. Smit suffered some damage to his bakkie during the chase after the hijacked vehicle, and Shikwambana was heavily traumatized albeit uninjured. The department of health in Limpopo have not released a statement on the matter.