Three held af­ter cops chase down al­leged hi­jack­ing syn­di­cate

The Sunday Independent - - News - NABEELAH SHAIKH

THREE men sus­pected of be­ing mem­bers of a no­to­ri­ous hi­jack­ing syn­di­cate op­er­at­ing in the Dur­ban area have been nabbed by po­lice af­ter be­ing found in pos­ses­sion of bags filled with tools be­lieved to have been used to steal ve­hi­cles.

The tools in­cluded com­puter boxes, allen keys, plugs and ig­ni­tion switches.

The ar­rests came in the wake of two botched hi­jack­ings which claimed the lives of nine-year-old Sa­dia Sukhraj and Avoca father Kelly Chetty last week.

Khehla Mlan­geni, 25, Nduduzo Ntuli, 31 and Vu­mani Hlengwa, 32, ap­peared in the Amanz­im­toti Mag­is­trate’s Court on Mon­day and were re­manded un­til June 11.

Po­lice spokesper­son Lieu­tenant-Colonel Zwane said the hi­jack­ing sus­pects were ar­rested af­ter po­lice re­ceived a tip-off of a Toy­ota Etios on Kingsway in Amanz­im­toti.

Po­lice in­ter­cepted the ve­hi­cle, which had three men in it, Zwane said.

“The sus­pects at­tempted to flee, drove at a high speed and hit a Ford Ban­tam, and drove off.

“They then lost con­trol of the ve­hi­cle and struck a traf­fic light pole, aban­doned the ve­hi­cle and fled on foot.

“Po­lice gave chase and ap­pre­hended the sus­pects,” he said.

The Etios had been seized by po­lice as an ex­hibit, he said.

A po­lice source, who deals with hi­jack­ing cases, said crim­i­nals were be­com­ing smarter and keep­ing up with new tech­nol­ogy.

“Most new ve­hi­cles do not have ig­ni­tions, they have com­puter boxes. This means you do not need a key to start these cars, you just have to press a but­ton.”

He said crim­i­nals were us­ing elec­tronic com­puter boxes to over­ride a ve­hi­cle’s sys­tem and gain ac­cess to cars.

“They dis­able the car’s ex­ist­ing sys­tem and then use their com­puter boxes to start the ve­hi­cle by over­rid­ing the sys­tem,” said the po­lice source.

Zwane said po­lice were not al­lowed to pub­li­cally dis­cuss in de­tail the modus operandi of crim­i­nals as the in­for­ma­tion was used for crim­i­nal pur­poses.

Metro po­lice spokesper­son Par­boo Sew­per­sad said metro po­lice worked hand in hand with the SAPS to ex­e­cute the ar­rests re­lated to ve­hi­cle theft and hi­jack­ing.

In re­cent months, the South Dur­ban area, and par­tic­u­larly uMlazi, had be­come a hub for hi­jack­ers, he said.

“It is be­com­ing dif­fi­cult to curb the prob­lem in this area be­cause we are notic­ing a trend where some res­i­dents are sup­port­ive of the hi­jack­ers,” said Par­boo.

“Panel­beat­ers and chop shops in the area are get­ting busi­ness from the hi­jack­ers and are work­ing hand in hand with them.”

The most com­monly hi­jacked ve­hi­cles were the Toy­ota Etios, Toy­ota For­tuner, Ford Ranger, Toy­ota pro­fes­sional trucks and the Kia 100 light de­liv­ery truck.

Sta­tis­tics for the past three months showed 102 ve­hi­cles had been hi­jacked. The stolen ve­hi­cles were val­ued at a to­tal of R22,5 mil­lion, he said.

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