HEROES Jaco Moller (left) and Philip Botha (right) with Andy.
A blockbuster-like car chase played out on the fringes of the Stellenbosch area on Saturday when Andy the Landy, a red 1971 Land Rover, was stolen and, according to owner Philip Botha, involved in “an amateur high-speed car chase”. Botha has owned the Land Rover form five years. “It’s basically my child – I love it to bits,” he said. Botha noticed his car, Andy, was not in the spot in which he parked it on his way to an 8am lecture on Thursday 21 February. When he heard that his flat mate’s car was broken into the previous night, he suspected Andy had been stolen. Botha immediately went to the police station, but they were apparently unable to help him because they needed information about the car which could not provide. He checked CCTV footage close to where he lives which showed how a security guard walked around Andy shining a torch at it. Shortly after, two suspects broke into the car and sped away.
The following evening Botha went out with his friend, Estian Maree. At 23:45, while they were in De Akker, Botha received a photo of his car saying it was sighted in the vicinity of Cubanna and Nu’Bar. According to Maree, he could see in Botha’s face he was rattled. “It was like a parent whose child was kidnapped, and they heard they were spotted,” he said. The two got onto Botha’s poegie and drove through town to find Andy. They drove as far as Kayamandi and Paradyskloof but gave up after three hours of searching. Botha reported to the police that Andy had been seen around Stellenbosch and then went home. Saturday morning 23 February, Dylan de Nysschen, Botha’s friend, drove past Andy on his way to write a BAccHons test.
“The car was driving in the opposite direction,” de Nysschen said. “They were turning onto the R44 towards Somerset West.” He phoned Botha and followed the car. He also contacted the Stellenbosch police, who sent officers to the scene. According to De Nysschen the suspects drove past De Zalze golf estate, on the way to Somerset West, when they suddenly pulled off towards Jamestown by the cemetery.
“It is possible that the suspects realized they were being followed as the one guy in the back kept looking backwards and they started zigzagging through the suburb,” he said. When Botha received De Nysschen’s tip, he woke Jaco Moller, his flat mate. They grabbed a golf club for protection, borrowed a friend’s car, and went straight to Campus Security. According to Botha, Campus Security turned them away because the incident took place “outside the campus district”. Campus Security was contacted but have not commented on the matter. Botha and Moller drove towards where De Nysschen was waiting for them. They phoned the Stellenbosch police but apparently struggled to get through. They then called the Somerset West police department, who sent officers from their side.
When Botha and Moller reached De Nysschen at the T-Junction on the R44, they saw the Land Rover cruising towards them and decided to attempt to block the suspects off. “It was the most insane moment of my life. It feels like you’ve seen a ghost, because I thought I would never see my car again. Suddenly here it comes with people I don’t know in it,” Botha said. He tried opening Andy’s door to pull the driver out of the car, but the suspects started reversing at full speed, 60km/h apparently being the fastest Andy goes. Botha and Moller chased after them. One man jumped out of the car, and the other two abandoned the vehicle shortly after. Andy had overheated in the chase, so Botha had to wait with his car. He waited for approximately ten minutes before police arrived on the scene. De Nysschen left to write his test at that point, and the police searched the area for the suspects. Thereafter the police took the car into custody to “search for finger prints”. Botha and Moller were told they were very lucky.
“Something I learned is that bravery goes a long way and taking a bit of risk can lead to a good story,” Botha said. “I think it was a combination of both bravery and stupidity,” Moller added.
Andy was returned to Botha on Monday 25 February. All the doors were broken open.
Allegedly the police neither searched for finger prints, nor for weapons, as a knife was found in the driver’s side door after being returned to Botha.
The Stellenbosch police are unable to make a statement surrounding the incident as the case is still being investigated.
Photo: Armin Prinsloo