By Adam Wakefield and Naledi Shange, News24
The Bidvest Protea Coin (BPC) helicopter that helped an unemployed man achieve his dream of one day flying in a chopper was involved in the chasing down of wanted suspects in a foiled robbery attempt.
“Earlier this week one of Bidvest Protea Coin’s clients released a circular expressing concern about laptop thieves operating in the Midstream, Centurion area. The Bidvest Protea Coin estate security staff were placed on high alert and requested to report any suspicious activity in the area,” the company said in a statement.
“On Wednesday… guards were alerted to persons acting suspiciously in a parked vehicle at the estate. The security officers acted swiftly and informed their supervisor, who in turn dispatched a Bidvest Protea Coin reaction vehicle to the estate. Upon their arrival they attempted to prevent the suspicious vehicle from leaving but were forced off the road by the occupants.”
The suspects immediately began to fire shots at the security officers who in-turn retaliated, with one of the suspects consequently wounded. They fled the scene in their vehicle.
The head office tactical team were instructed to deploy to various areas in Pretoria, with the helicopter taking to the skies this time in search of the fleeing suspects.
“Given the experience of the BPC tactical team members they anticipated the modus operandi of the suspects, they soon were able to locate and corner the suspects,” the company said.
“The suspects, realising they were unable to brush off the determined officers from Bidvest Protea Coin left their vehicle in a built-up area. The wounded suspect, who had meanwhile passed-on, was found left behind in the vehicle.”
Earlier this week, what came to Vusimuzi Mbatha in a dream, on Wednesday turned into an exhilarating reality when he finally took to the skies in a helicopter.
From the passenger seat of the BPC chopper looking down on the Popo Molefe informal settlement outside Rustenburg that he calls home, he spoke of tasting freedom.
“My dreams have come true. I never thought it would happen for me. I feel liberated,” he told journalists and local residents.
Before embarking on his 15-minute flight, Mbatha seemed unfazed by the crowd who had come to see his dream take flight.
Mbatha captured the hearts of people around the country after News24 ran a story of the helicopter he built from bits of scrap metal, and his dream of one day flying his home-made aircraft.
News24 readers made numerous pledges to help Mbatha realise his dream, saying what an inspiration he was.
On Wednesday, dressed in camouflage pants and a beanie, he showed little emotion as he walked around the yard where his hand-made chopper was parked outside his shack.
He showed his creation to BPC and explained how he had imagined his aircraft taking off. Mbatha started building the helicopter last year. He said that during a strike at the nearby mines, he saw a chopper circling the area. Shortly afterwards, he began dreaming of flying and decided to build his own aircraft.
On Thursday, BPC chief operations officer Waal de Waal said: “Just yesterday we reached out to a proud member of our community who was not prepared to give up to his unfortunate circumstances, but today we again went after those who choose to follow the evil route of benefiting from crime.
“Vuzimusi should serve as an example to those who persist no matter what the odds is that stacked up against them in achieving the better things from life.”