On Sunday evening, 19-year-old Akima Hamilton experienced a brush with the criminal element in
the city of Mbombela.
Although unhurt, she is still flustered by the experience, she told Lowvelder.
According to her, the day started off routinely enough, with a babysitting job lined up. The couple who she was babysitting for were having car trouble and called Hamilton to let her know they would
Her mother, Michelle Parkes, said, “We were fully aware of where she was and I called her at 19:45 to make sure that she would be returning home that evening.”
The uneventful day turned into a dramatic evening when the teenager made her way home to Ntulo Wildlife Estate along the Kaapsehoop Road where the family lives.
“When I reached out to open the gate with my access card, three men jumped out of a white Polo TSI, pepper sprayed me in the face and demanded that I give them money,” said Hamilton.
Flustered and scared, she replied, “I don’t have the money.”
Her shouts alerted the security guards who called her parents while the three men fled in the waiting vehicle.
Parkes added, “We came out and the security guards showed us the video footage of the car speeding off. If there were any number plates on the car, the cameras would have been able to capture it, but it did not have plates.”
Hamilton said the incident happened so quickly, and had it not been for the security guards’ presence of mind, it may well have taken another turn.
“I am so glad that I escaped unscathed because it could well have gone in a different direction,” she said.
Parkes agreed. “It’s the scariest thing for any parent to go through.”
The experience has left Hamilton traumatised and more aware of her environment while she is driving.
“I have definitely witnessed a change in her. She is more perceptive, does not drive alone and is accompanied by friends and family wherever she goes,” said Parkes.
A charge was laid at the Nelspruit Police Station and the mother and daughter lauded the police for their assistance.
“They arrived at 22:00 on Sunday and took a statement. We are waiting for the case number to be SMSed. The police were very friendly, which was really quite refreshing,” Parkes added.
“The biggest lessons for me is that I am more wary than ever before. The realisation that there are a lot more bad people out there has hit home. Only when it happens to you, do you realise the caution women travelling alone have to exercise,” Hamilton said.
Her mother agreed. “She is so much more aware of her surroundings and constantly checks what is in front of and behind her when she’s out on the road.
“She is much more observant than she used to be and keeps her doors locked when she stops at a traffic light.”
Hamilton recalls thinking that the three suspects were offering her hand sanitiser seconds before the attempted hijacking.
“I saw the canister and when he raised it to my face, I thought, ‘Why are you sanitising my face?’ before I realised what was happening. I am thankful that I escaped with my life and want to urge other women to be very careful and to keep their eyes peeled for a white Polo TSI.”