Cop outwits hijacker

2010-06-14 00:00

A DETECTIVE’S sixth sense for sniffing out crime led to the arrest of a suspect for a brutal hijacking in Raisethorpe in the early hours of Saturday morning, after a man brazenly asked the officer to help push-start the car he had just made off with.

Warrant Officer Samuel Mduduzi Mthethwa (46), who uses a prosthetic leg, was en route to Harburg police station in a marked police car when he came across a Hyundai Accent weaving across the Wartburg road. He flicked his lights, indicating to the driver that he should pull over, but the driver stopped dead in the middle of the road.

As Mthethwa approached the car, the young driver said he needed help starting, and asked the detective to give him a push.

Mthethwa agreed to help him get the car off the road. “As I was pushing the car backwards, I realised he was very young. I was very nice to him, but he seemed nervous and was shaking.” Mthethwa said he soon realised the man did not know how to drive properly, so he suggested the man get out the car and allow Mthethwa to steer the car to the side of the road.

Questioning the man, he realised he was not being truthful about what he was doing and, suspicions aroused, Mthethwa realised he needed to buy more time.

“So I pulled up the handbrake, making it hard for him to push me, but it gave me more time to think.” Mthethwa looked down and noticed a long spear in the passenger footwell. “There was something dark on it, but I couldn’t see properly. I knew I had to arrest him, but wasn’t sure on what grounds yet.”

As Mthethwa questioned him further, the man offered him a bribe to allow him to leave. Refusing the bribe, Mthethwa pretended he would just allow the man to go.

Mthethwa said when the car eventually started, the man came around to the driver’s side and he made his move as he climbed out the driver’s seat. “I grabbed him and put him into the back of the police car.”

Mthethwa flagged down a truck driver to help him drive the two cars to the police station.

There, Mthethwa inspected the spear and saw there was blood on it. He also found a leather jacket covered with blood, with an ominous hole in it. The suspect’s shoes were also bloodstained, but he explained this away by saying he had been attacked by a dog, which he had stabbed with the spear.

On further investigation, it was discovered that a man had been held up and robbed of the Hyundai in Palimand Road, Raisethorpe, earlier. He had been stabbed with the spear and was taken to hospital. Mthethwa now had a crime to match the suspect to and the man was arrested.

Mthethwa lost his leg when he was shot 21 times with an automatic rifle in unrest violence in 1992. He was confined to a wheelchair for three years before being fitted with a prosthesis. “I can’t run, but I now walk normally.” He has been a police officer for 24 years and said he was able to make the arrest as his “instincts and senses corresponded”.

Police spokesperson Joey Jeevan confirmed that a case of car-jacking has been opened and that the suspect will appear in court today.

She said the victim was hospitalised with wounds to his head suspected to have been inflicted by the spear. Attempts to contact the victim yesterday were unsuccessful. He is believed to have been released from hospital.

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