Spate of gangland hijacks

2019-06-11 15:00
The burnt-out remains of four cars that were torched on Friday night in Imbali 2 during the street vigil of an alleged criminal on Hlokohloko Road. PHOTO: NOKUTHULA KHANYILE

The burnt-out remains of four cars that were torched on Friday night in Imbali 2 during the street vigil of an alleged criminal on Hlokohloko Road. PHOTO: NOKUTHULA KHANYILE

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A spate of hijackings in Imbali, in which a police officer was wounded and two other people injured, is believed to be linked to the funeral send-off of a notorious car thief.

On Friday, four cars were stolen from around Pietermaritzburg and burnt in Imbali Unit 2 at a street vigil before the funeral.

The alleged car thief was stabbed to death in a fight last week. It is not clear what led to the fight, but sources who spoke to The Witness said the stabbing happened near Hlokohloko Road.

When The Witness visited the area on Monday, the burnt-out remains of four cars, a VW Polo, Mazda 323, VW Golf and an Opel Corsa, lined the street while vagrants stripped them for scrap.

Pietermaritzburg police spokesperson Sergeant Mthoko Ngobese said no one had been arrested in connection with that incident, and it was still unclear where the vehicles were stolen.

One witness, who asked to remain unnamed for fear of reprisals, said mourners danced to loud music, alcohol flowed, guns were fired in salute and engines revved.

“It was like a movie,” said the witness. “The sound of gunfire is still ringing in my ears. We all watched in horror as the vehicles were torched.

“When they exploded it was like a bomb had gone off in the area. I felt sorry for the owners.”

While criminals were prowling the streets at the weekend, Sergeant Nontuthuko Xulu (36), who is stationed at the Alexandra Road police station, was shot in the leg and hit on the head with a gun in a botched hijacking in Imbali Unit J on Friday night.

An unsuspecting Xulu had just pulled into her driveway at about 11 pm, with the main driveway gate still open when she was approached by a gunman.

She said the man forced her at gunpoint to hand over her VW Polo car keys, but a reluctant Xulu threw the car keys into the yard.

“He ran inside the yard and found the car keys on the grass, then he got into the vehicle and tried to reverse from the driveway.”

A shaken Xulu said while the assailant was trying to drive off, she shoved her hand through the door and tried to grab the car keys. He lost control of the vehicle and crashed it into a ditch.

“When the vehicle came to a halt, I managed to grab the keys away from him,” she said.

While Xulu was wrestling the assailant for the car keys, he shot her in the leg and ran off. She is in a stable condition in hospital.

Another victim, Londiwe Ngcobo from Imbali Unit 15, was also hijacked at gunpoint in Imbali Unit 3 on Thwala Road. Ngcobo (39), who was travelling with a friend in her Opel Corsa Bantam, said the hijacking happened at about 9.40 pm.

She had just pulled up at a stop street, when out of nowhere, a man appeared and demanded her car keys.

“I had my window down. He put his hand through the window and told me to get out of the car,” Ngcobo said.

She said while she was still stunned, a group of about eight men appeared and started hurling insults at her.

She said she managed to snatch the car keys from the man who had confronted her and ran off but slipped and fell. “I ran and one of these men followed me while the others were screaming that he must shoot me. I slipped and fell, and he pulled out a knife and I gave him the keys.”

Ngcobo, who recovered her vehicle at the police pound in Mkondeni on Monday morning, suffered minor bruises on her forehead and elbows.

“It was very traumatic, and it will take a long time for me to forget what happened,” she said.

The third victim, Thami Buthelezi, was hijacked early on Sunday morning, also in Imbali Unit 3. Buthelezi, who was still “too traumatised” to speak about the incident, said he also recovered his vehicle on Monday morning.

Read more on:    pietermaritzburg  |  crime
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