Gang’s hired car ruse

2013-05-16 00:00

NOT only was the “five-minute” housebreaking syndicate adept at committing crimes, but the gang also used a cunning ruse to avoid arrest: using hired cars, which they regularly changed to give police the slip.

After a day or two, the gang — which was active in Pietermaritzburg, but came from Durban — would exchange one hired car for another by complaining about a supposed defect. This made it difficult for police to keep track of the vehicles they used.

They would commit their crimes during “mornings only” — between 9 am and midday — and quickly return to Durban with their loot.

This was the evidence given in the Pietermaritzburg Magistrate’s Court yesterday by Warrant Officer Willem de Wet of the Organised Crime Unit. He is opposing the bail applications of three alleged members of the syndicate — Cebo Madyibi, Sihle Msomi and Sifiso Hadebe.

De Wet told magistrate Celumusa ­Zungu that the three were charged with housebreakings in the Town Hill and Lincoln Meade areas on April 25 this year.

The police believed they would link the men to other housebreakings and/or robberies, he added.

An identification parade has been scheduled for next week.

At least one of the men — Msomi — would be charged with another housebreaking at Ashburton on April 24, because a Fossil watch found in his possession when he was arrested had already been identified by the owner as hers, said De Wet.

“It was a Mothers’ Day gift from her daughter and she was very glad it was recovered.”

De Wet said an analysis of the cellphones the men had on them when arrested revealed that the trio was “active” as far afield as Richards Bay and Empangeni during the first four months of this year.

He said police had been trying since the beginning of the year to make a breakthrough in the investigation.

On the day the men were arrested, April 25, a home in Town Hill was broken into at 9 am and another at Lincoln Meade at 11 am.

The men were arrested an hour later on the N3 near Cato Ridge, travelling in a Fiat Punto in which police found all the stolen items from the two burglaries, including flat-screen televisions and other electronic equipment.

Police also found a crowbar, gloves and bolt cutters in the car.

Tests are awaited to determine if the equipment can be linked to the men and the burglaries.

The thieves made off with loot worth R24 000 from the Town Hill housebreaking and with R48 000 worth of goods — including jewellery, a microwave and television — from the Lincoln Meade incident.

De Wet testified that a witness had said a white VW Polo was used in the Ashburton incident on April 24, and it was established that a VW Polo was exchanged for the Fiat Punto in which the men were arrested the following day.

He said that according to his information none of the men owned any property or assets, and all were unemployed.

When defence advocate Dalene Barnard said the men claimed to be employed — two owning taxis and another a removal truck — De Wet said this was the first he’d heard of it. “They told us they were unemployed,” he said.

He said Hadebe claimed he was living at a house in Umlazi, but he had found none of his personal belongings there.

He suspected Hadebe did not want to take police to where he really lived because stolen property could be hidden there.

Barnard suggested to De Wet that Madyibi owns two taxis and a car, that Msomi is a consultant with a Durban money-lending concern and owns a metered taxi, and that Hadebe is employed by a Durban motor spares company and owns a removal truck.

The bail application continues today.


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