Sunday Independent 18 August 2019

Motorists are urged to be vigilant, especially during the day and on weekends as criminal syndicates become brazen in their attempts to seize vehicles using weapons.

According to statistics by the SAPS, each year over 16000 vehicles are hijacked from motorists in South Africa despite state-of-the-art technology fitted by car manufacturers, insurance and vehicle tracking companies to make it difficult for hijackers to get away with stolen vehicles.

The SAPS figures showed that new models – under 10 years – make up more than 67.2% of hijacked vehicles. Older models aren’t spared either as hijackers sell them off as spare parts or are sold cheaply and used as local taxis in townships.

National Hijacking Prevention Academy operations manager Melinda Brussow said Gauteng and KwaZulu-Natal experienced the highest number of vehicle hijacking and that most hijackers used firearms.

Brussow said Toyotas and Volkswagen vehicles were among the most hijacked because “there are many of them on the roads” and are easy to sell.

Boysie Mokoena, 30, said he was lucky to be alive following a traumatic hijacking in broad daylight on a major provincial road in June. He had been driving a Mercedez-Benz.

Mokoena said he was flagged down by what appeared to be a group of police officers on the R59 between Alberton and Vereeniging.

The “officers” were in a white Volkswagen Polo with blue lights when they signalled for him to pull over.

“I realised that the white Polo had been following me for sometime with blue police lights on. I pulled over to the side of the road thinking they were police officers.

The moment I got out, three men jumped out and pointed guns at me. They throttled me and dragged me into the back seat of my car while another one furiously searched for my car’s tracking device and ripped it out once he found it,” said Mokoena.

Mokoena reported the incident to the police and to his insurance company, but the car is yet to be found and his insurance opted to settle his debt.

Themba Mahlangu also fell victim to armed hijackers two months ago while returning home from work on the N4 between Pretoria and Witbank. Four armed men stopped him and demanded the keys to his 2008 BMW 330i.

“It was about 5.30pm when they stopped me. One guy pointed a gun at me while another one quickly untied my shoelaces and strangled me with them,” said the 39-year-old.

The suspects drove off with his car, leaving him stranded on the side of the freeway.

While grateful to be alive, Mahlangu fears that his car will never be recovered since the vehicle wasn’t insured nor fitted with a tracking device.

Brussow said that most hijackings took place during the day or on weekends.

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