I Thought I Was Go­ing To Die: Shaken Taxi Driver

He de­scribes the at­tack on him by three men as the most fright­en­ing ex­pe­ri­ence of his life

Fiji Sun - - Fiji Today - SHAHANI MALA and SELITA BOLANA­VANUA SUVA Feed­back: shahni.mala@fi­jisun.com.fj

Ataxi driver said yes­ter­day he thought he was go­ing to die. This af­ter three men at­tacked him about 5.20pm at Tikaram Place in Na­madi Heights, in Suva yes­ter­day, and wanted to drive his taxi away.

But he was thank­ful to be alive af­ter he fought to stop them from tak­ing his taxi. Po­lice Com­mis­sioner Bri­gadierGen­eral Si­tiveni Qil­iho was at the Sam­ab­ula Po­lice last night to meet the taxi driver and to see the progress of the in­ves­ti­ga­tion. The driver, who spoke on the condition of anonymity be­cause of fear, said: “I am lucky to be alive; I thought I was go­ing to die. “This was the most fright­en­ing ex­pe­ri­ence of my Iife. I am thank­ful to God that I am alive,” he said. He said it was around 4:45pm when the three men hired his taxi from Suva City. “One was sit­ting in front and two were sit­ting at the back. “They asked me to drop them at the Na­madi Heights to Tikaram Place. “When we reached Tikaram round­about, they told me to turn back and I did so.” He said the man who was sit­ting in front took out his wal­let to pay the fare to me but an­other man who was just sit­ting be­hind my back said that he would pay the money. “At that time I was look­ing at the back and when I looked in front, I saw the man with a knife.

“I was re­ally scared. I tried to wres­tle away the knife. The man who was sit­ting be­hind me held my mouth and the third one was punch­ing me on my head so that I can re­lease my hold on the knife. “But I re­fused to leave the knife. “I strug­gled for about five to 10 min­utes to free my­self. “I asked them that what they wanted from me and the man who was sit­ting in the front said they do not want to kill me, they wanted to take my taxi with them. “They tried to pull me out of the taxi but they could not. “They then pulled down my seat, they be­gan to pull my legs and hands.

“I fi­nally man­aged to free my­self and jumped out of the taxi,” he said.

The taxi driver said one of the three sat on the driver’s seat and wanted to drive “and sud­denly take off with my taxi. “I quickly pulled out the key. “They then tried to grab the key from my hands but the key tag and the key were sep­a­rated. The key fell on the ground so I kicked the key with my leg un­der the car.” He said the three men tried to look for the keys but they could not find it and by that time peo­ple started com­ing so the three ran away. “They took my mo­bile phone and about $80.

“I have been driv­ing taxi for the last three years but this was the first time such in­ci­dent has hap­pened,” he said. His hand was cut and swollen from the knife struggle and blood had cov­ered his torn clothes. Com­mis­sioner Qil­iho high­lighted the sig­nif­i­cance of pub­lic aware­ness and the im­por­tant role the pub­lic plays in re­port­ing in­ci­dents within min­utes of them hap­pen­ing. He added that hav­ing gad­gets and smart phones these days had also cre­ated a sys­tem for the Po­lice to quickly get to the per­pe­tra­tors of such crimes.

“I want to re­as­sure the pub­lic that we are here for them, and for any such things, the quicker the re­port comes to us, the faster we re­act to it. But fur­ther to that, we have to be more proac­tive, when we see un­usual events, or new faces in the area. If they look sus­pi­cious, do let us know so we can pre­vent things from hap­pen­ing,” Mr Qil­iho said.

He said that the driver was con­fi­dent in iden­ti­fy­ing the rob­bers and in­ves­ti­ga­tions were on-go­ing. An eye­wit­ness, Az­imun Rafiq, 49, said: “We of­ten wit­ness rob­bery in our area but this was the most fright­en­ing one.

“I am still shaken by the in­ci­dent and I am re­ally con­cerned about my fam­ily’s safety. “When­ever any rob­bery hap­pens in our area, Po­lice would come and in­ves­ti­gate and they will al­ways ask me for in­for­ma­tion,” she said. Ms Rafiq said this was the rea­son she took the video of the in­ci­dent. “It was around 5:30 pm when I was in my sit­ting room with my daugh­ter when we heard the toot­ing horn of the ve­hi­cle. “I thought that some­one was play­ing with our ve­hi­cle but sud­denly we heard some­one yelling so we peeped from the win­dow and saw the taxi shak­ing. “We saw the taxi driver strug­gling to save him­self from the three men. “We ran to save the driver. But we pan­icked be­cause we did not know what to do. “Things hap­pened so fast,” she said. “When group of iTaukei men started to run to­ward them, they ran away. “Some­one then called the Po­lice and they were at the scene within five min­utes,” she said. Edited by Paula Tu­vuki

Photo: Selita Bolana­vanua

Com­mis­sioner of Po­lice Bri­gadier-Gen­eral Si­tiveni Qil­iho (right), with the taxi driver yes­ter­day. The taxi driver asked that he is not iden­ti­fied.

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