On Sunday 27 October chaos erupted on the N2 when a seemingly drugged-up man stood in the path of oncoming vehicles and lugged huge rocks at their windscreens.
Whilst the police weren’t able to confirm details at the time of going to press, witnesses say that a young boy who was a passenger in one of the vehicles was badly injured and had to be hospitalised. The perpetrator was arrested on the scene but no news of his court date has been forthcoming.
One of the cars badly damaged was a Hyundai Elantra owned by Ivan Strydom, who was driving the long hall from Cape Town to Port Elizabeth with his wife, mother in law and five-year-old grandson in the passenger seats. When he told us his story a week later he was still counting his blessings that none of his family had been hurt.
It was about 7 pm and they were on the stretch of road between the Botha and Barnard furniture factory and Eagles’ Nest, only three or four kilometres from Sedgefield when he saw a man step onto the road about 100 metres ahead of them.
“I thought he was crossing the road, but then he stopped in the middle. As I got closer, I realised he was holding a huge rock. It was big enough for him to be using both hands to carry it,” he said.
With traffic coming the other way, Ivan was unable to swerve his car. As he braked the rock came crashing through their windscreen and landed between him and his wife in the front seats. Very shaken up, he drove a little further on before pulling the car over to the side of the road, just in front of another vehicle that was already parked there.
Inside this vehicle, a Mazda 2, was a Sedgefield resident (name withheld at her request) who had been driving along the same stretch only a minute or two ahead of the Strydoms when her wheel hit something in the road. Hearing a loud noise she immediately thought she’d had a blowout, and pulled over to the side. When she got out she saw her tyre was indeed flat. She climbed back into her car and locked the doors to consider her next step. Then the Strydom’s car came slowly past and pulled over in front of her.
At first, she was unsure what to do, not knowing who they were – but then, seeing the gaping hole in their windscreen and a middle-aged lady in the front seat, she went over to see what had happened and they exchanged stories. All quickly became convinced that the same man had been responsible for the rock in the road that her Mazda had hit.
“The couple very kindly insisted on staying with me, though I’m sure they could have carried on,” she told us later.
Another car then pulled up. The driver said his vehicle had also just been hit by a rock, fortunately with minimal damage.
As they sat, making frantic calls to the authorities and family members on their cell phones, along came the perpetrator himself. He had dreadlock hair and looked very disheveled as if he had been on the road for some time. His behaviour was erratic, and they were convinced he was under the influence of drugs “Dis EK wat die klippe gooi!” he shouted as he approached them.
Fortunately, the Strydoms had been successful in raising the alarm and it was at that moment that a traffic officer arrived on the scene, closely followed by the two Sedgefield men who had come to help change the Sedgefield lady’s tyre. While the officer made sure the three vehicles were not creating any further danger on the busy road, one of the local men changed the wheel and the other took charge of the perpetrator, instructing him to lie down so that he could not escape. The traffic officer then came over and handcuffed the perpetrator.
Not long after that, two police officers arrived to take the man into custody. Talking to the Strydoms, they explained that they had already attended the same scene earlier that evening after a BMW had been hit by a large rock. Sadly, in that particular incident, a young lad who had been sitting in the passenger seat had been seriously injured and taken to hospital.
Official confirmation of this was not available from SAPS at the time of going to press.
The already exhausted Strydom family followed the police vehicle back to Wilderness Police Station to make a statement and were only able to continue their journey at 10 pm that night – a shattered windscreen further hampering their progress.
Sedgefield’s Community Orientated Policing (COP) had received reports of someone throwing rocks on that particular stretch of road earlier in the evening, prior to these incidents, but after an extensive search which proved fruitless, they had presumed that the person responsible had made off into the bush.