Two friends on way to fun night out snatched from residence in North End
Plans for a fun Saturday night turned into a brazen hijacking that quickly escalated into a horrific kidnapping, rape and murder ordeal for two Port Elizabeth university students.
Police yesterday launched a massive manhunt for at least six suspects after the two NMMU students were hijacked and kidnapped from outside Varsity Park student residences in North End at about 9.30pm on Saturday.
During the horror ordeal, a 28-year-old male student was shot dead and his 21-year-old woman friend raped, but eventually freed.
Students, a head of department and management at NMMU were left reeling in shock as news of the attack spread yesterday.
The body of the single father from Mthatha was recovered from the sea at Brighton Beach just after midday yesterday.
The student had been shot executionstyle in the back of the head.
He was believed to be a temporary Bluewater Bay resident who was studying towards a degree in emergency medical care.
The student, who is employed by Emergency Medical Services in Mthatha, was studying in Port Elizabeth.
His friend, a third-year pharmacy student, was still recovering from the ordeal at a Port Elizabeth hospital yesterday.
She is believed to be from Limpopo, but is staying in a students’ residence in Central in Port Elizabeth.
While The Herald has established the identities of both victims, the name of the murder victim was not released by police yesterday as his next of kin have not yet been informed.
The identity of the woman cannot be released as she is a rape victim. According to sources, the two friends were outside Varsity Park waiting to pick up two other students before leaving for a fun night out at an intervarsity event at NMMU.
As the two friends, who are studying the same course as the murder victim, exited Varsity Park they witnessed a car occupied by about six men pull up behind the victims’ vehicle.
The suspects then hijacked the vehicle, and forced the two victims into the boot of their own car before speeding off. A source close to the case and who spoke on condition of anonymity said money had been withdrawn from the murder victim’s bank account.
After just R200 was taken from the account, the man was taken to the front of his car at Brighton Beach and allegedly shot in the back of the head.
The young woman was later allegedly raped and then taken to other areas in the city including Motherwell and Wells Estate where she is believed to have been forced to clean herself.
She was subsequently dropped off near a filling station in Central during the early hours of Sunday from where she made her way back to her residence and reported the matter.
Describing the incident as a “traumatic ordeal”, police spokeswoman Colonel Priscilla Naidu said an investigation task team had been immediately mobilised by the acting Mount Road cluster commander, Brigadier Ernie Neveling.
A manhunt was launched for the suspects and the missing man, with the assistance of the Flying Squad, SAPS Air Wing, SAPS Search and Rescue divers and the National Sea Rescue Institute. “At about 12.30pm [yesterday], the body of a male was found floating in the sea near Brighton Beach,” Naidu said.
An assistant manager at the woman’s residence said he had come on duty during the early hours of Sunday and had quickly been alerted to the incident.
“The other students are finding out about this and they are very shocked by what happened. The student is being assisted by her roommate who is also exhausted and very tired after what happened,” he said.
At Varsity Park yesterday, the only sign of the previous night’s incident was an entry in a security firm’s incident book which recorded a hijacking, along with the number plate of the vehicle involved
The time was given as10.25pm. NMMU Emergency Medical Care course academic head Nico Louw described the incident as “shocking” and “devastating”.
“The victim started the four-year degree in January this year and he was a very promising student. “He was staying in Bluewater Bay and his family is in Mthatha. This is such a horrific thing,” Louw said.
“This is really a massive loss,” he said, adding that “the whole class is very distraught”. Louw said the two classmates who had witnessed the hijack were “totally traumatised” and that the university had already arranged for counselling to be conducted at the university today.
In a statement released by NMMU, media manager Zandile Mbabela said the institution had learnt “with deep shock of the heinous crime”.
“The university is deeply saddened by this unforgivable act and extends its heartfelt condolences to the late student’s family. “The university has a zero-tolerance stance on sexual violence and while the matter is under police investigation, the university will support the rape victim in any way possible,” Mbabela said.
Reacting to the attack, Eastern Cape government spokesman Sizwe Kupelo said yesterday the government condemned the murder and rape.
“We urge police to ensure that all perpetrators of this violent crime are brought to book. The premier sends his heartfelt condolences to the family of the deceased,” he said
No arrests had been made by late last night. Naidu said the victim’s vehicle, a gold-coloured Polo Vivo, with the registration number HSC308EC, had not yet been recovered.
Police are appealing to anyone who can assist in their investigation in tracing the suspects or the hijacked vehicle to contact Mount Road police or 08600-10111.