Blue-light hijack spree

2010-07-28 00:00

POLICE blue light vehicles are known for terrorising motorists, but this has taken a new turn after a gang used a blue light vehicle to carry out a hijacking spree on Friday.

A group of Pietermaritzburg residents still cannot come to terms with their trauma following a hijacking south of Durban on Friday night. This was one incident in a spate of hijackings on the same night, apparently by the same blue-light vehicle.

Four men in a silver-grey Ford Ranger with blue lights hijacked the group at gunpoint on a dirt road in uMbumbulu at about 10 pm.

The same Ford Ranger was used to hijack a married couple in uMkomaas at about 8 pm on the same day.

During the hijacking, the wife was shot on the hand.

Said Samkelisiwe Simelane, “When we were forced to pull over, we were convinced that we had been stopped by police offi­cers since they were travelling in a vehicle which had blue lights flashing.”

It has since been established that the blue light vehicle had been hijacked from a police offi­cer.

Simelane, who works for The Witness, was travelling with her husband, Malibongwe Simelane, a Health Department employee, and two relatives to a funeral in uMbumbulu.

“Three men jumped out of their vehicle, pulled firearms and forced us out of our car. They told us that we were travelling in a stolen vehicle. They also accused us of being behind shootings in the area.

“They forced us to lie down on the ground before demanding that we hand them our cellphones,” said Simelane.

She said one of the men kept threatening to kill them as the three men got into her black Hyunda­i Atos.

“The three of them got into our car and demanded to know if our vehicle had an anti-hijack device. As the car was not starting, they threatened to kidnap one of the women. But my husband helped them to … start the vehicle before they drove off, leaving us stranded,” Simelane said.

Simelane’s sister-in-law, Hlengiwe Simelane, had hidden her cellphone, which she used to call for help.

Two of their relatives collected them and took them to uMbumbulu police station where they opened a hijacking case.

They then proceeded to a memorial service where they related their ordeal to other people. A woman who was at the service went home to find the same Ford Ranger parked in front of her gate. It had been abandoned. She called the police, who took the vehicle to the police station.

After the funeral on Saturday afternoon, Simelane and her husband returned to the police station and were told the double cab belongs to the South African Police Force.

They said they met other people who had come to report hijackings, apparently by occupants of the same police vehicle.

Malibongwe said he will never stop again when ordered by police to do so at night.

“They will have to shoot me. If they force me out of the way, I will fight to defend myself,” he said.

The three lost about R2 600 and all their belongings, including important documents that had been in the vehicle.

Police spokesperson Captain Thulani Zwane said the Ford Ranger belongs to the police and was hijacked from a police officer in uMlazi, south of Durban, on Friday evening.

“It was used to hijack another vehicle in uMbumbulu at about 10 pm on Friday. At about 8 pm it was also used to hijack a married couple in uMkomaas where a wife was shot in the hand. Police later recovered it abandoned in uMbumbulu on Saturday,” he said.

Road Traffic Inspectorate spokesperson Zinhle Mngomezulu and Crime Stop said the registration number on the Ford could not be traced on the system.

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