A tourist in South Africa has told how he was shot in the face after his satnav sent him into one of Cape Town‘s most notorious neighbourhoods minutes after landing.
American citizen Walter Fischel, 55, is lucky to be alive after his rental car was ambushed by armed robbers during a traffic jam.
Walter was shot in the mouth and left for dead as the robbers fled in his car but astonishingly he survived losing just a few teeth and is recovering in hospital.
He told local news station News24 how he had put his destination address into the Avis car’s satnav and it suggested he take the shortest route because there was heavy traffic on the motorway.
The GPS system took him right through Nyanga, number three on the list of South African murder hotspots.
Walter, from Connecticut, said traffic began to slow at he reached the township and he began to notice that the neighbourhood was “not the greatest”.
He said: “It got slow enough where I was stopped. And then I got shot in the face.”
Walter explained: “The guy reached in, hit the lock, opened the door, while his accomplice opened a passenger door.
“I tried to reach for the pistol, to grab his gun, to keep him from going further, and he swung away from me while his accomplice grabbed some of the goods.
“He also grabbed the keys, kicked me out of the car, four of them jumped in the vehicle, then I opened the boot to try to grab my bag, which I did, and then they chased me down and grabbed the bag from me.
“And then they left me there with a bullet wound and I spit out a couple of teeth and the bullet.
“I went to hospital and told them what happened.”
He added: “If it was five centimetres up or down, we may not be having this conversation.”
Walter was transferred to Cape Town’s Rondebosch Medical Hospital where trauma surgeons stabilised his injuries.
Trauma surgeon Denis Allard said: “The first question was, will I need to have a secure airway – because he was shot in the face.
“Blood going down into his lungs is potentially fatal.
“We solved that together with the maxillofacial specialist and my assistant that was here – we spent our Saturday afternoon in theatre.”
Surgeons performed a tracheostomy allowing Walter to breathe more easily through a tube in his throat.
Allen told local media how close Walter had come to death with the bullet wound just centimetres from the carotid artery and his brain.
He said: “The bullet could even have ricocheted.
”It’s really very unusual to have a bullet still have the force to fracture the mandible, take out teeth, and then the bullet to stop and lie in the mouth.”
Walter thanked the surgeons for saving his life.
He said: “I’m here, I’m lucky to be here, but, you know, I’m angry that I didn’t see it coming, that it happened – the whole ordeal.
“I mean, who would expect that in the middle of the day.”
The US government has since warned citizens that taking the “shortest and fastest” route suggested by GPS navigation software can put them at risk in South Africa.