Media couple Barry Soper and Heather du Plessis-Allan's dream holiday in South Africa turned into a nightmare when they were burgled then carjacked within a week.
Veteran political journalist Soper and his former TV3 news presenter wife recently returned from a month-long break in Cape Town and Johannesburg. The trip left them shocked and several thousand dollars out of pocket.
Soper told the Herald on Sunday he was forced to fight off a carjacker when he stopped in a bad area of Johannesburg two weeks ago. The thug launched himself through the open window of the couple's rental vehicle and demanded they hand over valuables.
READ MORE: Barry Soper: Johannesburg's lawless side
A week earlier the couple had thousands of dollars worth of electronic goods stolen from their rented cottage at the upmarket Camps Bay Resort in Cape Town by a team of four burglars.
"Heather was born in South Africa and we have been there many times before without incident," Soper said. "But this was scary stuff. The carjacking was very frightening."
Soper first became aware of trouble when he was driving through Johannesburg's notoriously crime-ridden suburb of Hillsbrow.
"It was a Monday afternoon, the traffic was heavy and there were hundreds of people milling around the streets," Soper said. "I noticed a truck was driving alongside us and the driver was taking more than a healthy interest in what we had in the car.
"He then drove ahead of us before pulling up and getting out of the truck and disappearing into the crowd."
When traffic came to a standstill another man started pounding on his window, Soper said.
"I didn't know what he wanted and being a typical Kiwi I rolled down the window to ask what was up."
Soper was stunned when a bigger man appeared and launched himself though the open window, grabbing at them and demanding their cell phones.
"I thought he was going to produce a weapon. I ended up wrestling with the guy and managed to whack him in the face before getting the window up and getting away.
"What was more frightening than anything was people just stood by and watched it happen, no one tried to help. And the police didn't seem all that interested in investigating anything either."
A week previously the couple were robbed as they dined with du Plessis-Allan's mother and brothers a few doors away from their accommodation in Cape Town. Their cottage was in a gated community but the thieves scaled an electrified fence and stole digital devices including iPads and laptops.
"The burglars even had the cheek to nick all of Heather's underwear but left mine alone," Soper joked. "I was a bit insulted by that because I had my best Calvin Klein boxers with me."
An annual crime survey released by the South African Police last year revealed carjacking had increased by 14.3 per cent in all provinces since 2015 but were lower than a peak of 14,915 cases in 2008-2009.
The survey listed 'Trio crimes' which include "carjacking and robberies at residential and non-residential premises which, amongst others, are perceived by households the most common and feared crimes in South Africa".
"Anyone visiting there should be extra careful at the moment," Soper added.