Cops re­act to hi­jack spike

Spe­cial­ist W Cape unit formed to halt 82% in­crease in ve­hi­cle theft

Weekend Argus (Saturday Edition) - - NEWS - HENRIETTE GELDEN­HUYS

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

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