Mother and children caught in hijacking attempt on way home from Kruger National Park

Melani de Beer and her two children narrowly escaped death, when two suspects rushed in, guns blazing, in an attempt to hijack her vehicle on the R538 in Mganduzweni yesterday afternoon, January 3.

Melani de Beer (39), her daughter, Miah (14), and son, Marnu (11), ended their holiday fleeing for their lives on their way back home to Pretoria from the Kruger National Park.

They had stayed in Pretoriuskop for almost two weeks during the holiday before deciding to leave a day early to escape the rain. They exited the Kruger from the Numbi Gate and got onto the R538 towards White River.

According to the Masoyi police’s spokesperson, Nanikie Nonyane, De Beer was slowly driving her fully-loaded car and trailer over a speedbump near a taxi rank in Mganduzweni, on the R538, 20 kilometres outside White River, when two suspects emerged from both sides of the road to stand in front of the vehicle.

“I grabbed my daughter, who sat next to me, and started praying as they loaded their guns and screamed at us,” said De Beer. As soon as the shots started firing, she ignored the heavy weight of her vehicle and drove off without hesitation.

Two suspects shot at the tyres to try and prevent Melani de Beer and her children from getting away.

Bullets went flying through the bonnet, tyres and the passenger window. Miah was shot through her right leg. As the car drove off, the suspects continued to shoot at its tyres. De Beer said nine to 12 shots had been fired at her vehicle.

A few kilometres later, De Beer had to stop due to the vehicle’s tyres being ripped through, and to attend to her daughter’s wound and calm down a traumatised Marnu.

A witness, who drove behind them, stopped to help them and called ER24. When the police and emergency services arrived, Miah was taken to Mediclinic Nelspruit.

De Beer had to relive the whole incident when she went on social media to warn others of the dangers on the road to Numbi Gate. “I am grateful that my prayers were heard when we were in the car and that no one got seriously injured. My daughter and son are safe, and that is the only important thing to me,” she said.

SANParks’ spokeperson, Ike Phaahla, stated that they have issued a warning to the public to be extra vigilant when driving to Numbi Gate and asked the Masoyi police to ensure a safer environment in the area.

The police are still on the hunt for the suspects, who will be charged for attempted murder.

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