“That one moment of lax security and it almost cost us, big time”: Chris Reason. Photo: SuppliedPretoria: Seven Network journalist Chris Reason and cameraman Rob Brown feel lucky to have escaped without injury after being robbed at knife point on the streets of South Africa this week.
Brown was particularly fortunate, after one of the assailants struck him several times with a knife, but caused no injury.
“I thought he was done,” Reason said after the incident.
In Pretoria to cover the Oscar Pistorius murder trial, Reason and Brown were driving away from the North Gauteng High Court on Monday afternoon when the vehicle they were in was ambushed by two men.
Stuck in stationary in traffic during rush hour, Reason told Fairfax Media it was raining and Brown had opened his driver’s side window to clear the fog.
“It’s a standard security policy we have in countries like this, we know it’s just one of those taboos – you don’t put down your window, but it was just one of those things,” Reason said.
Within minutes, two youths had “lurched” through the driver’s side window.
“The first one went straight for the keys [in the ignition] and turned it off to disable the car – Rob’s hand went quickly over it, trying to hold on to the keys so they couldn’t take them,” he said.
“The other young guy, he would have been 16 or 17, stabbing at Rob’s arm, starting stabbing Rob’s chest.”
Reason said he then saw both were holding knives about 10 centimetres long, with wide blades.
“I was sitting there, watching a knife going repeatedly back and forth into Rob’s chest – I thought he was done,” said a still-shaken Reason.
After a couple of seconds, a panicked Reason said he threw the laptop he had been working on towards them, saying “take this, go, go, go”.
“Then I realised they were stabbing Rob’s arm – but they were either the weakest muggers in South Africa or their knives were blunt, because no blood was appearing anywhere.
“It took me a while to click – but I realised they were doing it to scare us.”
The youth was holding the knife in such a way that the blade could be seen but his hand was also far enough down that its tip wasn’t penetrating any skin.
As Reason tried to get them to take the laptop, Brown yelled “don’t give them that – it’s got everything on it”.
Brown then realised the muggers were shouting for their mobile phones.
He quickly threw them his phone, and the youths sprinted away into the traffic.
Brown, a well-travelled newsman who has been to South Africa many times, was uninjured.
“It’s obviously a well-practised, intimidating tactic designed to terrify – and it worked,” he said.
The iPhone was the only item the robbers got away with, even though a camera worth more than $70,000 and other equipment worth thousands of dollars was in their hire car.
“That one moment of lax security and it almost cost us, big time,” he said.
He said the pair did not notify police.
“At the end of the day, it wouldn’t have gone anywhere … they were street kids, and we were on deadline, we had other pressures. And I needed to get myself a new phone.”