‘We are now prisoners in our own homes’


CHATSWORTH used to be a pleas­ant place to raise a fam­ily, says the Rev­erend Abel Pil­lay, a lo­cal res­i­dent.

But af­ter a spate of vi­o­lent crime, and Pil­lay be­ing hi­jacked three times, his views have changed.

“Crime is get­ting worse as the years go on. Crim­i­nals be­lieve it is fine for them to loi­ter around in our com­mu­ni­ties and have their way,” he said. “Chatsworth has been un­der siege for a while now – it is un­ac­cept­able.”

Pil­lay, of Shall­cross, knows about crime first hand.

“The first was when I was hi­jacked out­side Home Af­fairs with my wife,” he told

“I went to the de­part­ment to pick up pass­ports to travel to a con­fer­ence in the UK. Two men took our Toy­ota Corolla. The sec­ond was in 2011. I was on my way home from vis­it­ing church fam­i­lies in Malvern. As I stopped at a ro­bot two men and a woman opened my doors and got into my car.

“They took me to two re­mote ar­eas in Mar­i­annhill and threat­ened to kill me. I just prayed and begged for mercy. Af­ter an hour of driv­ing around they took my cell­phone and wal­let and left me in Sar­nia.”

For Pil­lay, his third brush with hi­jack­ers was the fright­en­ing.

“My third hi­jack­ing took place in Unit 11 in 2017. I stopped to check on my tyre af­ter my gauge in­di­cated some­thing was wrong. As I was in­spect­ing my tyre two men cocked their guns and held them to my head. They as­saulted me, took my wal­let and cell­phone and took my Mercedes-Benz,” he said. “All that goes through your mind is your fam­ily and all I could think was, ‘Lord help me’.”

Pil­lay said it was about time the com­mu­nity felt safe.

“I am a min­is­ter for the last 40 years. I get called at odd hours of the night, like a doc­tor I need to re­spond, but the past experiences af­fect my ser­vices to my par­ish­ioners. We don’t feel safe any­more.

“I am on the Chiltern Heights com­mu­nity chat; al­most ev­ery day we hear of hi­jack­ings. Back in the day we didn’t care about lock­ing doors, we didn’t care about gates and fences. Now we are prisoners in our own houses. It’s a very sad day for South Africa.”


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