The Minister of Transport in South Africa, Sindisiwe Chikunga, has been robbed while her guards have had their guns stolen, in what police authorities in the country described as an “unprecedented incident.”
The attack took place on Monday as Chikunga was travelling on a highway south of Johannesburg, the police said.
“The tyres of the minister’s car were punctured by spikes, bringing the car to a stop enabling the criminals to rob the occupants of valuables,” the transport ministry said in a statement.
The minister and her guards emerged from the ordeal “unharmed and safe,” it added
A police spokesperson, Athlenda Mathe, said the robbers got away with personal belongings and two South African Police Service (SAPS) pistols.
“A manhunt has since been launched following this unprecedented incident and to bring to book those responsible,” Mathe said.
South Africa has long had a reputation for violent crime and is often described as one of the most dangerous countries in the world outside war zones.
Police recorded more than 500 robberies and almost 70 murders a day in the country of 62 million people from April to June this year, according to official statistics. Authorities have been accused of failing to ensure safety and secure justice for crime victims.
But Mathe said: “The SAPS is committed to executing its mandate of protecting the executive of the country and community at large.VIP protection is one of the key priority areas for the SAPS and has been undertaken with excellence over the years.”