I thought I was going to die - Priest
POLICE in Ekurhuleni are on the hunt for members of the notorious blue-light gang after they hijacked a priest, taking his money and car.
The gang, armed with assault rifles, struck at about 10pm on Monday while the priest, who is also a former political journalist, was about to reach his house in the suburb of Fairleads in Benoni.
Police said that the gang has been terrorising the area since March and they have been working around the clock to arrest them.
Well-respected Anglican priest Jo Mangaliso Mdhlela said he was about 700m from home when he saw the blue light flashing and thought it was the police.
"I thought I was going to die.
"I was calm when I stopped, because I believed they were police officers. It looked real because a police siren also went off.
"One of them pressed the mouth of an assault rifle against my head. I was terrified, the whole action made me numb.
"I am not sure whether the guns were AK 47s, or any of the R range," he said.
He said there were five gang members that he counted during the debacle. All of them were armed with rifles.
"They dragged me out of my car and searched me. They took my wallet. There was R500 in it. They were screaming at me to switch off the tracking device in the car. I was just scared, and I think I told them I did not know how to do it."
His assailants then disappeared into the night with his Mercedes-Benz 200 Kompressor closely followed by the white VW Polo fitted with blue lights and a police siren.
"I say thanks God I am alive. I pleaded with them to take everything and let me live. I heard them say we going to kill you now. I was so relieved when they drove off," he said.
Mdhlela is a former political correspondent of the Sowetan and editor of the Human Right Commission's publications and South African Council of Churches spokesman.
Crystal Park police spokeswoman Tryna Wolmarans said: "Unfortunately Mdhlela was hijacked. This is the first in our area by this gang. They started being a problem around late March, firstly in the Benoni area where about four or five hijackings were reported. Midrand has had about one recently."
Mdhlela said he would never again stop for an unmarked police vehicle with officers not in uniform.
"I had wanted to speed off but realised that I was surrounded," said Mdhlela.
He said he would have had to make a U-turn to drive to the police station and it would not have been practical considering that the men were armed.
Mdhlela is a priest at the Tokoza's Saint Stephen the Martyr Anglican Church. He also has business interests in marketing.
He resigned at the HRC at the beginning of the year.