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By Getrude Makhafola

Premium Journalist

‘They pointed a gun at my head’ – Minister Chikunga recounts armed robbery

Chikunga says she pleaded for her wedding ring when the armed criminals tried to take it off her finger.

Transport Minister Sindisiwe Chikunga on Tuesday gave a personal account of the armed robbery along the N3, describing the incident as “bad and traumatising”.

She appeared before Parliament’s transport portfolio committee for a briefing by the Auditor-General on the department’s entities.

The armed robbery happened when Chikunga and her entourage travelling in two cars stopped at around 3:30 am on the N3 to attend to a tyre puncture.

ALSO READ: Transport Minister Sindisiwe Chikunga and bodyguards robbed on N3 highway

Chikunga’s brother was also part of the entourage.

‘No time to make a call’

Chikunga said three armed men came from behind the bodyguards as they were packing up tools after changing the tyre.

They held up the bodyguards, took their firearms and ordered them to lie on the ground.

“I was sitting in the car and when they were done, I could hear a commotion outside and when I looked up, I could see people with guns pointing at the protectors.

“They [bodyguards] couldn’t have done anything because they came behind them. They ordered them to lie on the ground and opened the door. I tried to make a call but they opened the door before I could, they pointed a gun at my head and ordered me out of the car,” said the minister.

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Cellphones, cash from Chikunga and the bodyguards and her brother’s laptop were taken. When emptying the brother’s bag, they found a laptop and documents.

However, the robbers did not see a tablet that was also inside. She said they used it to call for help.

“My brother was not searched, they didn’t touch me except when they were about to leave. They saw my ring, and tried to take it off. I said to them it was the only thing I had between me and my late husband.

“They said ‘okay mama’ and when they left one said ‘there are police here, I hate police’. But they left. They took firearms and everything.”

‘Well-dressed’ criminals

The minister said she had a good look at one of them even though he wore a balaclava, adding that she would be able to identify him if she saw him, even with a balaclava on.

She described the criminals as well-dressed, aged between 20 and early 30s and spoke good isiZulu.

“They did not look like amaphara [pick-pocketers]. They were well-dressed. It was traumatising but I am okay and alive, we are all okay. God had mercy on us.”

According to her spokesperson Collen Msibi, the tyres of Chikunga’s car were punctured by spikes.

On Tuesday, police spokesperson Brigadier Athlenda Mathe said a manhunt had since been launched to find the perpetrators.

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