Car theft syndicate cracked

2014-02-04 00:00

PIETERMARITZBURG’S Hawks have cracked what is believed to be the biggest motor vehicle theft syndicate in Pietermaritzburg.

The crackdown resulted in 11 suspects — including a Pietermaritzburg policeman — appearing in court yesterday.

Now police are also investigating the possibility of the syndicate being linked to the ‘Five-minute gang’ which has terrorised suburbs in a spate of house robberies.

The weekend arrests of the suspects, who are believed to have high-ranking police officers on their payroll, ended a two year long undercover police operation headed by Pietermaritzburg’s Hawks and assisted by a police agent handled by the local Crime Intelligence Unit.

The operation had the backing of the office of the KwaZulu-Natal director of public prosecutions.

The Witness was told that the DPP had granted permission to police operatives to impound stolen vehicles that were bought undercover instead of returning them to their rightful owners.

This was to stop syndicate members from possibly spotting a vehicle that had been sold by them and blowing the police undercover operation.

The police sergeant who is one of the accused in the case — Mduduzi Zondi — is based at Plessislaer police station.

Zondi is charged along with one of the alleged syndicate members, Sandile Shezi, with fraud and defeating the ends of justice.

The state alleges that Zondi sold his own vehicle — a BMW — via Shezi, to an undercover police agent who was involved in the operation during May 2013 for R20 000.

Zondi allegedly then opened a false hijacking complaint and a false insurance claim for the car.

The Witness learned that Zondi was one of 11 people who were arrested at the weekend in a crackdown in a joint operation conducted by members of Pietermaritzburg’s Hawks, crime intelligence unit, flying squad, dog unit and members of the national police task force based in Durban.

Working day and night from Friday to Sunday morning, the policemen netted the results of a two-year-long deep undercover operation which began in 2012 when complaints about vehicle thefts in Pietermaritzburg began pouring in to police stations.

The syndicate targeted a large number of Toyota Hilux double cab bakkies, other Toyota cars and VW Polos.

There were also reports that dogs on some properties in Durban were poisoned by car thieves, but The Witness was told that the accused who appeared before court yesterday have not been linked to any cases of poisoning and police did not recover any poison during the course of their arrests.

They did, however, seize a variety of tools used to steal vehicles and computerised equipment to over-ride alarm systems and automated gate systems.

The syndicate is also alleged to have other devices that plug into the car cigarette charger and blocks the vehicle’s anti-hijack tracking device transmission.

The alleged syndicate members who appeared in court before Magistrate Ashin Singh yesterday are; Ian Williams (27), Siyanda Tsotsane (24), Ndumiso Ntshangase (34), Siyanda Mkhize (31), Nathi Hlela (42), Siyabonga Thobaleni Dlamini (23), Sibongiseni Marken (24), Lwazi Xulu (24), Sandile Shezi (29) and Derrick Williams (35). All are from the Pietermaritzburg area.

Williams is currently out on bail on a murder charge and Mduduzi Zondi and Shezi appeared separately before court in connection with the fraud and defeating the ends of justice case.

The case was adjourned until February 11.

15 vehicle theft charges

THE syndicate members so far face one count of attempted theft of a white VW Polo from Danielle Femmer in Montrose on January 5, 2012, as well as the theft of R600, bank cards and documents from the car.

They are charged with stealing another 15 vehicles over the course of the year, mostly in Pietermaritzburg, one in Howick, two in Durban and one in Estcourt.

The cars stolen were a white VW Polo valued at R180 000 belonging to Bronwyn Jenkins in PMB, a Honda motorcycle from Bruce Bukus in PMB, a Toyota Hilux bakkie valued at R30 000 from Xolani Ntshangase and Msunduzi municipality in PMB, a Toyota Corolla valued at R35 000 taken from Deon Govender in PMB, a Suzuki motorcycle worth R65 000 from Sipho Khumalo in Cato Manor, Durban; theft of a Toyota Run-X from Naeem August in Overport Durban, a Toyota Hilux double cab worth R280 000 and owned by Christopher Healey taken from Cascades Centre, PMB, a blue BMW 320 D worth R250 000 belonging to Kanil Sarupen which was stolen in Loop Street, a silver Toyota Verso worth R110 000 stolen from John Ellis in PMB, a blue Toyota Corolla valued at R40 000 stolen from Soorajbally Rajkeran in PMB, a Toyota single cab bakkie worth R140 000 from Michael Rautenbach in Howick, a Toyota double-cab worth R350 000 stolen from James Mbongwa in Estcourt, a Toyota double-cab worth R189 000 taken from David Mbambo in PMB, and a Toyota Hilux double-cab worth R170 000 from Michael Terreblanche in PMB.

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