A community are rallying together to support the founder of an incredible South African initiative who was held-up and robbed at gunpoint.
Johannesburg, South Africa (23 February 2020) – “I have a name” is an incredible photo series showcasing everyday South Africans in the most phenomenal way. Proudly South African… one story at a time!
But the founder of the amazing South African initiative has been left traumatised, and without her tools that she needs to create an income for her family, after being held-up by gunpoint on Friday afternoon.
On the 21st of February at around 3:30 pm, D and her pup were driving home after picking up Rachel (her daughter) from school. The area that they live in has controlled gates for security reasons, and D decided to use the “back gate” on this specific day as the road is usually open due to the gate motor being stolen regularly.
“I had slowed down because it is a very sharp turn and the road is bad because of all the rain. My attention had been grabbed by a paper notice on the fence, and as I turned a gunshot went off right next to me.”
A man was standing with a gun pointed against her closed window and was shouting at her to open it.
“I thought he had shot the door of the car. Rachel was sitting in the front and started crying immediately, and Olly was sitting on my lap and jumped up against the window. Rachel was crying – he’s got a gun, please don’t shoot Olly, please don’t shoot Olly.”
D had her camera on her lap, as she had been looking through photos while waiting for Rachel at the school. The talented photographer had been invited to capture an event for “Rare Diseases South Africa” that morning and was using the spare time to choose which pictures she would edit later that evening.
When she saw the gun, she immediately slipped the camera to the floor between her feet.
“Lots of things flashed through my mind… to accelerate and get out of there, to push Rachel’s head down and duck and drive away. To grab my pepper spray, which was hanging by my hand on my keychain.
But the guy was nervous, and I didn’t want to frighten him and have him trigger the loaded gun.”
D slowly opened the door and gave the man her phone. He demanded another phone and laptop and kept saying “hurry, hurry”!
“I asked a crying Rachel to take her phone from her bag in the back seat, and while she was looking for it, he grabbed my keys and tried to wrench them out of the ignition. I have quite a few keys as well as pepper spray on there, and instead of getting the key out of the ignition, a key chain broke, and the other keys and remotes came off in his hand.”
He kept trying to wrench the car key out. D was afraid that he would break the ignition and key, but somehow he didn’t.
Rachel handed him her phone, and when he looked down, he saw the camera and grabbed that as well. He immediately dropped the phone he had taken from the young girl, perhaps because he knew that the professional camera would be worth far more.
The man with the gun kept asking for a laptop and D explained that she didn’t have one. And then, as suddenly as he had appeared and the gunshot went off… he was gone.
A truck pulled up behind them and startled D. She wasn’t sure who was in the truck or what they wanted so quickly drove off.
The mom, daughter and pup were just a stone’s throw away from their home but without remotes, so had to press the intercom to be let in. D still feared for their lives and was trying to piece together what had just happened and now, trying to understand why the truck was following her.
They made it inside their property and then heard the truck driver yelling from the gate, asking if they were okay and holding up all her other keys and remotes. The truck driver had seen what was happening and just wanted to help.
D took to Facebook to share her story but also to explain that even though she had been through an incredibly traumatic experience, she would not let that impact her love for South Africa.
“How are we feeling? I’ve felt surprisingly calm and rational about what happened. I’m not angry… I understand what makes people do this kind of thing. I’m annoyed and frustrated that my camera was taken and that Rachel was traumatised. Rachel’s first request was to please sleep in our bedroom last night.”
But more than anything D says she is thankful for many things, including all the messages from friends and loved ones.
“I am thankful that we were not physically harmed; that he did not get my wallet with cards and drivers license, that 5 minutes after I came home from reporting the case at the police station (so that I could do a sim swap and get my cell number back) I heard voices in the kitchen and my friends were standing there with hugs and with a huge bunch of flowers and lovely feel-good junk food. I felt so so loved! Thank you so much!
I am thankful for a very clever husband who realised that the phone had gotten into the hands of someone quite technically competent and they had already changed my passwords for my Google, Facebook and Apple accounts. Still, he was able to re-hack them, and all my accounts are secure again.
I am thankful for my daughter. As I was sitting on the couch next to Rach with a cup of tea right after it had happened, she handed me her cellphone and said: “You can have my phone mommy.”
Megan Toni Hunter, a Rare Diseases South Africa employee, heard about the story on Saturday morning and quickly started rallying the troops to help D, someone who gives back so much to her community and South Africa!
“D is a friend who always gives back to everyone else, and I really want to help replace what was ripped away from her so she can continue the work she is doing.
Reaching my target will mean that D can replace her camera, lens & cellphone. The sooner we can reach this target, the sooner she can continue with “I Have A Name” & also be able to earn her income for her family.”
The post, and crowdfund have only just gone live, but already the community are rallying together to give D back her name, and her way of making a living.