Members of the Nyanga community policing forum (CPF) are concerned about the escalation of hijackings in Philippi since the start of the lockdown in March.
The forum is now calling on improved police visibility to stem the scourge. The forum believes these incidents are creating a negative perception of the area and “chasing away” potential investors.
Forum chair Martin Makhasi says hijackings are now getting out of hand and that they are working to try and curb such incidents. He says school closures have also had an impact on the escalating number of crimes committed in the area.
“Most of the culprits are school children. They are young people aged between 16 and 18. We suspect that there are people who are using these young boys to do their dirty work,” says Makhasi.
He states that the culprits are mostly targeting metered taxi drivers.
“They are enquiring for an Uber taxi and when it arrives they hijack it. Last month alone there were more than 10 incidents that happened relating to the hijacking of Uber drivers,” he says.
However, he also identified bad road conditions as a contributor to the hijackings.
“There are potholes everywhere here. Sheffield, Govan Mbeki and Ngulube roads all have potholes. The motorists have to drive slowly to avoid the potholes and that is when the criminals hijack them,” Makhasi says.
He added that most streets are barricaded with stones by residents to avoid the hijackings (“Rubble to the rescue”, City Vision, 6 August).
Nyanga police spokesperson Capt Ntomboxolo Sitshitshi confirmed hijackings and robberies are frequently occurring in Philippi but could not reveal exact numbers.
Instead, Sitshitshi cautioned motorists to always be alert when driving in Moonwood Drive, Ngulube and Bristol roads.
“These are some of the hotspot areas where most hijackings occur. All these roads have bad potholes and in most reported incidents, drivers are hijacked while avoiding potholes,” saiys Sitshitshi.
She also advised the public – especially those advertising their goods on social media platforms – be cautious when dealing with callers who may pretend to have an interest in buying their goods.
“Cases of hijacking which involved people who were selling plasma televisions were opened at the station and most victims are people who advertised on social media. The suspects would then call the seller and pretend to be interested in buying the item but when the seller arrives at the agreed meeting point, the suspect would rather rob them of their goods or (suspects) ask the seller to go (with them) to fetch the money at their home and on their arrival they get robbed and hijacked,” she said.
Sitshitshi urged people to be cautious when selling their goods on social media, especially to people in Brown’s Farm as many of these incidents are reported in this area.