Assaulted, raped, thrown down a bank: gran who got into fake Uber
Susan Dey testifies at the trial of the so-called Uber gang, who used the app to find their targets
As Susan Dey grasped repeatedly at her neck, struggling to breathe as the piece of fabric pulled tighter and tighter, she realised she was willing to jump from a moving vehicle if it meant saving her life.
But as she reached for the door handle of the bogus Uber taxicab that had picked her up, her three attackers told her if she continued to scream and continued to struggle, she would be killed.
Dey, mother of singer Tamara Dey, was testifying on Thursday at the High Court sitting in Palm Ridge, as one of the key witnesses and complainant in the trial of the so-called Uber gang.
The suspects are accused of using the Uber app to kidnap, rape and rob multiple women for months in 2016.
While Elias Mankgane, Daniel Maswikaneng, Treasure Bonga and Themba Mkuwanazi have pleaded not guilty to all of the charges against them, they have had to face their alleged victims throughout proceedings this week as the women have taken to the stand to give their versions of the terrifying nights on which they were kidnapped.
On Thursday, the grandmother took the stand stoically and gave excruciating detail of her experience with three of the men.
On July 6 2016, Dey had been attending a show at Montecasino and had ordered an Uber to take her home at about 10pm.
The driver appeared to be lost, according to the app’s tracking system, so she called him to give him directions to pick her up.
While she struggled to find him, because of the sheer number of Uber pickups happening at the casino, a man called to her, saying he was still on the line with her, and even used her name.
But he was not, in fact, her Uber driver, but Mankgane, one of the accused.
She was, however, convinced she had found her ride, as he had shown her his phone, and had known her name despite not mentioning it in her phone calls.
She was also anxious that her phone was going to die from a low battery, and quickly got into the front passenger side of the car.
As the pair drove off in his dark-coloured Ford, travelling down William Nicol Drive, he asked her what her address was, which she thought was odd, saying it should have been noted in the app.
She offered to give him directions, and he was at first willing to follow them. However, the car began speeding up, missing the turn she had just mentioned.
When she shouted, asking what was going on, he ignored her, and she heard scuffling in the back seat.
Suddenly, a piece of fabric was wrapped around her neck, and she screamed.
Two men who had been hiding in the boot of the vehicle had appeared, later suspected to be Mkuwanazi and Maswikaneng.
While she tried to take off her seatbelt and escape the moving vehicle, a knife emerged from one of the two men, and she was threatened to stop fighting back.
As the group continued travelling, she was pushed forward, and the fabric used to strangle her fell to the floor. It was a man’s tie.
One of the men took out masking tape and bound her hands and blindfolded her with it. The car pulled over and she was shoved into the boot.
While she was able to remove the tape from her hands, and subsequently her eyes, she couldn’t see anything in the darkened space.
Over the next hour, she was interrogated for the PIN codes on the credit and debit cards in her handbag. The men had accused her of lying about the code.
They lowered the back seat of the vehicle to access the boot, and she was struck in the face and punched in the side.
One of the men grabbed her breast, saying: “I’ll take these away from you.”
Eventually, the car stopped and the men left, probably to use the cards to withdraw money.
After multiple stops, apparently at a venue where Dey could hear numerous voices coming from outside, the three men drove her to a stretch of veld.
She could hear Mankgane’s voice giving some sort of instructions to the men, and the back seat of the car was lowered again.
She was ordered to put her head through the opening, where the shawl she was wearing was wrapped around her head and neck, to once again cover her eyes.
“I was instructed to put my head and shoulders back into the boot and bring my legs and torso out,” she said.
She could hear Mankgane’s voice, though she was unaware what had happened to the other two men. He began fondling her, eventually penetrating her genitals with his fingers.
He then continued the assault, inserting his penis and raping her for what she estimated to be five minutes.
“He then put my ski pants back on, mostly,” she told the court.
She was once again shoved back into the boot, and she and the three men drove off.
Mankgane once again spoke to the men, and they pulled off at yet another destination.
Two of her attackers opened the boot, grabbing her by her legs and arms, and threw her into the air. She landed on a steep embankment, and continued to roll to the bottom.
The men fled. She was able to seek help despite her injuries.
Each of the accused have thus far denied their connection to the case, with Mankgane telling each of the three victims this week through his lawyer, Michelle Ives, that he had nothing to do with the crimes that befell them.
The trial continues on Friday.
*Susan Dey has given permission to be named