Frontline Missionaries Attacked
Frontline Missionaries Attacked
Charl van Wyk and Philip Stott
During the Reclaiming Africa for Christ Biblical Worldview Summit, the Deputy Director of Frontline Fellowship, Charl van Wyk, and Creation Science lecturer Philip Stott, were held up in an attempted hijacking at Khayelitsha while en-route to record a radio programme. These are their firsthand reports on the attack.
Khayelitsha In The Morning
“Give me your cell-phone.”
The words hardly register. I am deep in thought — full of hope and joy. Open on my lap is Favoured UdoJesus Edwin Akubuiroh’s book “The New Wine Church”. I have been meditating on a stunning observation — Africa has long been in trouble because “her witchcraft activities, idolatry, wickedness and all manner of sins brought her torment and the wrath and punishment of God.” For years I have been despondent about the state of Africa. So much missionary effort, so little fruit, and I’m convinced that one of the main roots of the problem is that Africans never seem to accept any blame for their woes. The problem is always the old colonial powers, or the slave trade or something of that sort. But to hear an African acknowledge that witchcraft, idolatry and all manner of sins are to blame has filled me with hope. If a new generation like Favoured Akubuiroh is going to arise and acknowledge such sins in sincere repentance, then God could be on the verge of doing something wonderful and magnificent in Africa. When the door opened I had hardly noticed. It was almost as if it had happened in a dream.
“Give me your cell-phone. Now!”
I’m in a daze. I notice the reasonably tidily dressed man of about thirty standing at the open door. He’s not quite as dark as most Africans — probably some racial mixture — and his English is surprisingly good. Somehow I seem to be in a trance, and I can’t focus on him or pay attention to what he is saying.
My attention is fixed on the gun in his hand.
The gun is in very sharp focus.
It’s a 9mm semi-automatic pistol with an unusually long barrel. I don’t think I have seen a pistol with as long a barrel as this before. The gun is not new. It has seen hard service, much of the bluing is worn and the silver-grey metal is showing through the black coating of the barrel. The handle is brown. It could be wood, or perhaps plastic that looks like wood. His hand is wrapped tightly around that handle and the barrel is pointing at my stomach.
“Give me the cell phone.”
“I haven’t got a cell phone with me.”
“Give me your money.”
“I didn’t bring any money with me.”
“Give me your gun.”
“I haven’t got a gun.” I make a gesture with my empty hands but he doesn’t believe me. He starts again on his cycle of demands and paws my jacket searching for whatever he can find. He feels the outline of my camera through the soft material and starts to try and force his way in.
“Why haven’t you given us your cell phone?”
It’s a different voice.
There’s a movement just inside my field of vision on the left. A more vicious looking fellow pushes another gun towards me. I hardly catch a glimpse of it before it is pressed against my side. The first thug stops groping my clothes and the second takes over demanding my money, my gun, my cell phone. I gesture helplessly and explain once again that I just don’t have what they’re asking for. Thug number two seems to be losing patience. Thug number one resumes fingering the camera through my jacket. The long barrel of his pistol swings from my stomach to my knees and back again. Thug number two angrily demands a cell phone again and jabs his gun into my ribs.
I’m in a dream. Can this be really happening? What can I do? I’m almost paralyzed. I gesture helplessly with my empty hands.
Then out of the blue there’s Charl. Moving past the driver’s-side window on the right.
He’s always such a soft-spoken, mild-mannered chap with a constant look of joy on his face. But he doesn’t look the same now. His jaw is set in a hard line. There’s a determined expression on his face. He’s crouching as he glides swiftly past the widow towards the bonnet. He has a gun clasped in both hands. He shouts. The thugs suddenly lose interest in me. They snatch their weapons away and pandemonium breaks loose.
Charl’s gun roars and jerks up into the air with the recoil, shots ring out behind me to the left. The thugs have disappeared. I grab the door, slam it shut and crouch down trying to get my head out of sight below the level of the windows. Somebody is shooting somewhere over to the left but I can’t tell where the shots are coming from. Charl fires again. Lindekile, who had thought he was just getting a lift home as usual, shouts “Charl! Get down!” Charl ducks. More shots ring out and I hold my breath expecting bullets to shatter the windows or smash through the metal-work. Charl throws the driver’s-side door open and pushes Lindekile inside. Lindekile fumbles as his feet get caught between the clutch and brake pedals, he fights his way past the gear lever and flattens himself down next to me. Charl slams the door closed, rams the lever into gear and races towards the cross-roads.
As we drive towards the police station I look past Lindekile — perched uncomfortably on the handbrake — towards Charl. He still has that hard line to his jaw. I’ve known him for a long time, but I’ve never seen him quite like this.
I have known for a long time he takes the responsibility of protecting his wife and children seriously.
I’m conscious of being very thankful that he takes the responsibility of protecting his passengers seriously too.
“A righteous man who falters before the wicked is like a murky spring and a polluted well.” Proverbs 25:26
“Don’t move! Don’t move!” The gun-toting thug held his firearm pointed towards me whilst another came from behind and searched my jacket pockets. “Give us your money and cell phone. Where is your gun?”
I was busy unloading the back of our mission pick-up at 09h00 Tuesday 1 July 2008 in Khayelitsha, Cape Town. Lindekile, ex-terrorist unit commander, now turned Christian, was passing his bags of clothing from the back of the vehicle. We were giving him a lift from the Frontline Fellowship Biblical Worldview Summit held at Mizpah.
I gave the thieves my wallet, identification document and cell phone. They helped themselves to 10 foreign passports in my jacket pocket. These belong to Summit participants — I was to make copies of the documents so that our foreign ministry guests would be allowed into prisons to minister to convicts during the upcoming Great Commission Course.
The thug, who pointed the firearm at me, walked over to Sipho behind me and asked for his cell phone whilst the searcher carried on body searching me, trying to find a firearm. By God’s grace, he was unsuccessful.
The attackers made their way over to my passenger, creation scientist, Philip Stott, a guest speaker at the Summit. I was to interview Uncle Philip for a radio show later that morning.
The passenger door was ripped open and the armed thug pointed his firearm at Uncle Philip who was reading and had no idea of what had been going on behind the vehicle. “Give me your cell phone, money and gun!” the thief commanded. Thug two, the searcher, moved in right next to my passenger and stuck a pistol into his ribs. They could not believe that he had nothing. They were agitated, frustrated and aggressive.
Uncle Philip was cool-headed whilst explaining why he had nothing to give them. He wisely also did not look either of them in the eye — many attackers fear being recognised in court and will easily kill you if they think you may be able to recognise them later.
This gave me time to move towards the driver’s door of the vehicle and draw and cock my 9mm Heckler and Koch pistol. Sipho heard me cock my firearm and thus took cover on my side of the vehicle. I moved to the front of the pick up, I shouted at the thugs as they were threatening the life of Uncle Philip. For a split second they were distracted and I opened fire.
They fled, and are hopefully still running. What I had not realised was that there was a third party covering them from a distance. He returned fire. I heard Sipho shouting, “Charl get down!”
I took cover behind the vehicle at the driver’s door, which I opened; Sipho and I jumped in and we drove off as fast as possible. By God’s grace none of us were hit by flying bullets, and the mission vehicle was undamaged.
On the highway, a taxi van with about 12 passengers drove past; the passengers were waving, making positive hand gestures and showing thumbs up. “They are showing us that you hit one of the attackers Charl,” Sipho explained.
Praise the Lord for His grace and protection over us.
Charl van Wyk