Johannesburg – Talking nicely to a would-be robber did the trick for a doctor from Chris Hani Baragwanath Academic Hospital.
Dr Lisa Augustine had worked a long day in the orthopaedic ward and was on her way home after 10pm when she stopped at a red traffic light outside one of the hospital’s entrances.
Her window was about 5cm open, she said, when two men appeared at the window and demanded her cellphone.
“They told me to hand it over or they would shoot me. One of the men tried to open the back door, which fortunately was locked.
“The guy at my window looked slightly uneasy and I looked him directly in the eye, probably stupidly, but I was exhausted,”she said.
Augustine told him she had been working hard at the hospital all day helping his community.
“And suddenly the hostility vanished. He seemed to soften and his body language changed from being very aggressive. He apologised, I handed him R40 and he ran off.
“I’m sure he is not a bad person — just very desperate,”she said.
Augustine said she broke down after she drove off, realising then what could have happened.
More personal crime encounters where the victim engaged in conversation with would-be robbers:
A journalist at The Star was walking close to Queen Elizabeth Bridge in the CBD when a man stopped her and demanded her phone, saying his friend had a firearm.
“I refused to hand it over. He had a Botswanan accent and I asked him why he was coming all the way from that country to steal from me. He backed off, and because he had delayed me, I insisted he walk me to my front door, which he happily did. As he walked away, he warned me not to walk alone in the area as I could be robbed,”she said.
Another journalist said she was driving in Pixley Seme Street in the CBD when a man put his hand through her open window to rob her.
“I quickly rolled up the window, catching his fingers. He managed to pull them out and ran away.”
In another incident, in Ntemi Piliso Street in the CBD, a man pointed to the same woman’s tyre, indicating that it was flat.
“I stupidly opened the window and he demanded my phone. I told him I would get it from the door compartment. Instead, I took out a can of pepper spray and sprayed him in the face. He ran away.”