Cops lie in wait for crooks

2008-07-25 00:00

As a woman dropped her child off at a Pietermaritzburg crèche on Thursday, she was confronted by armed men who demanded her car keys, shot her companion and fled in her car.

This was one of two hijackings reported in Pietermaritzburg on Thursday.

Angela King’s ordeal began in Bromhead Road, Pelham, at about 8.30 am when she had just alighted from her Isuzu bakkie to drop off her child at a local daycare centre.

As she returned to her vehicle, two unknown men held her at gunpoint and demanded her keys.

Police spokesman Senior Superintendent Henry Budhram said that after King handed them the keys, the men forced her companion, Christopher Smith, out of the car. Suddenly, a gunshot went off, hitting Smith in the thigh. The men got into the car and fled.

Smith was rushed to hospital.

The suspects hid the bakkie in the underground parking lot at Scottsville Mall to avoid detection.

After waiting 10 hours, they went back to fetch it, but were surprised when police leapt out and arrested them before they could make off with the vehicle.

The police had tracked the bakkie to the parking lot and lay in wait for the suspects to collect it.

The suspects also pointed out an Audi A3 parked nearby, which was later found to have been stolen from College Road.

The police officers belong to the Crime Prevention Unit, which is part of the city’s Dog Unit and Organised Crime Component.

“We don’t want our faces and identity to be disclosed because we operate undercover. We cannot disclose how we tracked [the hijackers] down because that might jeopardise our lead to the big fishes,” said one of the officers.

Budhram said: “Investigations are continuing and police believe that the arrested suspects are part of a larger group responsible for car-jackings across the province.”

He said the suspects are expected to appear in Pietermaritzburg Magistrate’s Court soon.

The second hijacking incident occurred in Isabel Beardmore Drive near Epworth at about 1 pm.

Grant Thomas arrived home after withdrawing a large amount of cash.

As he was waiting for his automated gate to open, two armed men, who alighted from a nearby Mercedes Benz, stepped in front of his vehicle and pointed firearms at him.

One of the men grabbed the money bag and Thomas’s personal documents, which were on the front passenger seat, and both men fled.

Budhram has appealed to members of the public to help with the investigation by contacting Detective Captain Naleen Maharaj at 084 581 7809 or Crime Stop on the toll-free number 086 001 0111.

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