Thieves walk away scot-free

2010-03-15 00:00

THE question of the public’s duty to fight crime came under the spotlight yesterday, when a transport company owner declined to charge a group of alleged thieves caught virtually “red-handed”, after having stolen 16 25 kg bags of mealie meal from his truck at Cato Ridge.

The owner of Specialised Security Services, Neville Mipping, expressed dismay that swift action by his staff and the South African Police Service amounted to nothing and the culprits were going to be released, as a result of the decision taken by Frederick de Jager of HDJ Transport, based in Mafikeng.

However, De Jager defended himself when contacted by The Witness, saying he is as keen as anyone to thwart crime. “I was left with no choice.These guys [the perpetrators], for some reason, implicated my driver, who has worked for me for years and who I know and trust implicitly — and caused him to be arrested.

“The police told me the only way I can ensure his release is if I don’t open a case. I need him, and I can’t afford to have him sitting in prison.”

De Jager said he had even offered to pay bail for the driver, as he could vouch for him, but the police would have none of it. He said the driver has worked for him for more than nine years and he has “not had a day’s trouble” in respect of any loads entrusted to him.

Theft is a major problem faced by the transport industry, particularly on the N3 and the N2, and his vehicles are no exception, he said.

Mipping said two men stole the bags of mealie meal off the truck in question while it was parked at the Engen garage at Cato Ridge. The thieves then made a phone call within earshot of one of his security guards at Dunbar Spar, arranging for transport to pick up the stolen goods.

Joint action by his company and the police ensured the arrest of the two men, the arrest of the driver of a bakkie who had arrived to fetch the stolen goods, as well as the arrest of the truck driver and the recovery of the mealie meal, which was hidden in long grass near the garage.

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