Heavily-armed gang posing as cops

2012-05-16 18:26

Johannesburg A gang posing as police officers has been targeting the East Rand and Johannesburg's northern suburbs, Gauteng police said on Wednesday.

"This gang is carrying high calibre weapons," said acting provincial police commissioner, Major General Pumza Gela.

The areas being targeted were Benoni, Germiston, the N17, Beyers Naude Drive, and the N14 near Dieplsoot. In the past seven days, five cases were reported and the modus operandi was similar in each case.

He said about three to five people would be in an unmarked car, mostly white Golfs, hijacking and robbing people after hours when it was not safe to stop. Some of the criminals were also using blue lights.

Gela urged residents not to stop if they were indicated to do so by people in an unmarked vehicle using blue lights.

"Don't stop. Look for the safest place like a garage or a police station.

"If it's a law-abiding officer, then he will follow you."

Motorists who are pulled over by someone claiming to be an officer in an unmarked car should demand their credentials.

Gela said the challenge for police was that many hijackings and robberies were reported late, in some cases a day later.

"At times there are gaps of about two hours in between... the vehicle could be outside the province by then."

If cases were reported immediately, police officers would be dispatched to the scene straight away, he said.

He did not rule out the possibility that some members of the gang could be policemen.

"It cannot be excluded that police members are conniving with [these] criminals."

Gun control

In the past 18 months, 600 police officers were arrested for crimes in Gauteng.

"There may be corrupt members in our ranks but it's not all of us. It's a drop in the ocean."

He said 99% of police officers were good.

The SA Police Service was trying to improve its strategy and had a system in place, he said.

About 850 police officers deployed in Gauteng had been asked to look out for suspicious vehicles in the areas they patrolled.

He urged people to report the registration plates of suspicious vehicles.

Gela said police management were taking back police uniforms not in use to prevent them from falling into the wrong hands.

A new system had been put in place with regard to the issuing of state firearms.

In all police stations, two people were appointed to watch and issue firearms to prevent them "slipping out easily", Gela said.

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