Cop shot as cigarette truck hijacked

2015-05-21 16:11
(File, Shutterstock)

(File, Shutterstock)

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Johannesburg - A KwaZulu-Natal policeman was seriously injured during a shoot-out with AK47-wielding cigarette truck hijackers during rush hour in Lenasia on Thursday morning.

Police spokesperson Lungelo Dlamini said police were on their way to Soweto when they saw that a cigarette truck was being hijacked about 2km from Chris Hani Baragwanath Road in Protea at around 08:00.

The truck driver was pushed out of his van, but when the four hijackers spotted the police, they opened fire.

''Four suspects of which one was armed with an AK47 started shooting at them. Police also shot back,'' said Dlamini.

The shootout stretched about half a kilometre and a police officer was hit in the upper body. The robbers eventually abandoned the van near an informal settlement and disappeared on foot.

The injured policeman was rushed to Lenmed Clinic in a serious, but stable, condition.

His passenger, also a police officer, was not injured, but their windscreen was shot through.

During the commotion, bystanders started helping themselves to boxes of the cigarettes and running off.

Police asked that anybody with information on the gang call them on Crime Stop at 08600 10111 or text Prime Media's Crime Line on 32211 at all hours.

According to the Tobacco Institute of SA, South Africa has the highest illicit tobacco incidence in the region, and is in the top five globally.

In 2013, about 31% of all cigarettes consumed in South Africa were illicit, dropping to about 23% in 2014.

Illicit cigarettes are either not declared for tax, or are smuggled into the country, or are counterfeit.

A pack of ''luxury'' traditional brands costs around R35, with budget cigarettes at an average R18 for a pack of 20.

Tisa estimated that over R20bn in tax revenue was lost through this since 2010.

Read more on:    johannesburg  |  crime

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