Twitter helps save kidnapped man


A South African man sent a text to his girlfriend from the trunk of his car after being kidnapped. Twitter did the rest, altering citizens and authorities to be on the lookout. 

A man in South Africa can thank his lucky stars—and Twitter—after having his car hijacked and driven more than 150 miles while stuffed in the trunk. Thanks to friends and some quick thinking, he was found alive and well.

The man, apparently named Tyrone, was driving through Honeydew, in northwest Johannesburg on Saturday when two armed men hijacked his car and placed him in the trunk. However, they forgot to take away his phone.

“Be on the look for DSS041GP my boyufriend has just been hijacked and is in the boot please RT,” Tyrone’s girlfriend Lynn Peters tweeted after he sent her a text message.

The news quickly spread after friend Tanisha Reddy asked the person behind PigSpotter, an account that helps followers avoid police roadblocks and has more than 109,000 followers, to inform others.

Vehicle-tracking company Afritrack, community emergency service and rescue team Riga Rescue, and security services company K9 Law Enforcement all helped the cause. The former two organizations mobilized units in the area and tried to track Tyrone’s phone signal. Police were also on the car’s trail.

Two hours after Peters sent the initial tweet, the car and its owner were found in Ventersberg, around 250km from Honeydew. The armed men fled on foot after driving into a roadblock. No arrests were made.

“I think this does go to show effective a networking tool PigSpotter and in general Twitter actually is,” PigSpotter told The Star. “This is not the first incident where someone has been rescued, or a vehicle has been retrieved as a direct result of tweeting me and it being RT’ed, and reaching the correct people at the exact moment.”

Photo by Editor B

Kris Holt

Kris Holt

Based in Montreal, Kris Holt has been writing about technology and web culture since 2010. He writes for Engadget and Tech News World, and his byline has also appeared in Paste, Salon, International Business Times, Mashable, and elsewhere.