Three held after cops chase down alleged hijacking syndicate
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.