Cops react to hijack spike
Specialist W Cape unit formed to halt 82% increase in vehicle theft
HIJACKING has risen in the Western Cape by 82 percent since 2012, prompting the provincial police to establish an anti-hijacking unit.
Community Safety MEC Dan Plato has welcomed the move, saying the police’s increased focus on anti- hijacking initiatives in the province is welcome as authorities work to prevent any further increase in the number of hijacking cases reported.
Although police spokesman Lieutenant- Colonel Andre Traut did not want to give details of the newly established task-team, he said police “form task-teams targeting specific crimes, guided by developments in crime patterns and trends”.
“Criminals change their modus operandi, hence the police’s tactical response cannot remain static.
“From time to time, we review our tactics and operational plans to establish projects and task-teams targeting specific crimes in our endeavours to curb serious and violent crime.”
Official police statistics show hijacking increased by 22 percent from 2013/ 14 to 2014/15 – from 782 to 956.
There was a further 60 percent jump between 2012/13 and 2013/14 – from 956 to 1 530.
The Western Cape has also notched up the highest murder and child abuse rates (social contact crimes) in South Africa for decades.
These social contact crimes remain stable in the Western Cape, but the latest statistics showed aggravated or armed robbery – so-called “stranger crimes”, which have traditionally been associated mostly with Gauteng and Kwa-Zulu Natal – are showing sharp increases here.
But car hijackings showed the biggest spike, according to the latest crime statistics.
House robberies also increased by 30 percent and business robberies by 14 percent over the same period in the Western Cape.
Most hijacking – 54 percent, or about 6 900 out of 12 700 – occurred in Gauteng during 2014/15.
Nyanga was the eighth most dangerous car hijacking spot in South Africa, with 137 hijackings in 2014/ 15. Gauteng’s Booysens was the worst, with 220 hijacking cases, followed by KZN’s Chatsworth with 188 cases.
All categories of armed robbery in the Western Cape – carjacking, truck hijacking, cash- in- transit heists, bank robberies, house robberies and business robberies – have increased from about 4 400 cases in 2012/13 to 5 000 in 2013/14, then to 6 000 in 2014/15 – an increase of 25 percent.
Police statistics showed an average of four hijackings reported daily in the Western Cape, but a senior police officer who would not be named suggested the figure was much higher.
“There were 15 hijackings in four police clusters in Cape Town on Tuesday alone,” he said.
Traut, however, said police had no knowledge of these.
Ewald Botha, Plato’s spokesman, said the utilisation of intelligence-based specialised policing units had seen great success historically.
“We trust that the new anti- hijacking unit will be properly resourced and capacitated in its task,” he added.
Botha said they had long called for the immediate reinstatement of other specialised policing units, such as the gang and drug units, to tackle the scourge of gangsterism and drugs “which too many of our communities have to face as a crime reality on a daily basis”.
He said metro police, the city of Cape Town’s law enforcement and provincial and local traffic departments had made great strides in patrolling stretches of the N2, N1 and R300.
“This has seen reductions in the number of attacks on motorists,” Botha said.
On the anti-hijacking unit and other specialised task teams, Traut said such interventions, including in gang violence, were monitored constantly and “reviewed to ensure efficiency and making the maximum impact on the crime front”.
“The main objective is the optimal utilisation of resources,” he said. henriette.geldenhuys