AK47

“Hijackings appear to be on the rise within the eThekwini sector and we are seeing an unprecedented level of aggression from criminals, who are, in some instances, wielding high calibre firearms including rifles and AK47s. These suspects, it seems, have employed a modus operandi whereby they take the victims with the hijacked vehicles and usually release them unharmed. In almost 24 hours since Monday, we had four vehicles hijacked in three incidents between Reservoir Hills and Overport.”

Ethekwini Secure and Cluster PRO, Zain Soosiwala, spoke to The Weekly Gazette, and said in the wake of the rampant hijackings, members of the public need to be proactive and empower themselves and their families to handle such situations with aplomb.

On Monday night, a gang of armed hijackers alleged to be brandishing rifles accosted two businessmen on Magpie Road in Reservoir Hills and fled taking the duo with their respective vehicles, a BMW 528i and an Audi A4. The men were found visibly shaken and the vehicles were recovered in Ntuzuma a short while later after the tracking systems were activated. It is believed that a contingent of crime-fighters got into gear and assisted in searching for the hijacked men.

Police spokesperson, Cpt Nqobile Gwala, said, “We can confirm that a complaint of hijacking was received from Magpie Place, Reservoir Hills but no case has been opened as the vehicles were recovered in Ntuzuma. The complainant declined to open a case.” Meanwhile, on Kenilworth Avenue in Overport, a woman and her two daughters were confronted by two men with firearms whilst waiting for the gate to open to enter the property. It is reported that a white Toyota Etios backed her vehicle in and the two suspects rushed out. The suspects are alleged to have pistol-whipped the victim who pleaded with them to let her two minor daughters out of the vehicle when they pulled her from behind the steering wheel. It is unknown if the vehicle has since been recovered. Sydenham SAPS communications officer, Cpt Myen Lazarus, confirmed the incident and said a case of hijacking is under investigation. “Anyone with information on the incident is urged to contact Sydenham SAPS on 031-203 2703,” said Cpt Lazarus.

According to Soosiwala, another hijacking occurred in Sherwood on Tuesday morning and the victim was reported to have been found in Lamontville. He said an armed gang alleged to be travelling in a white Hyundai Elantra appears to be doing their rounds and targeting the eThewini area. “There are awareness campaigns in place to empower members of public on recent crime trends and how to protect and safeguard themselves and their family in volatile situations. Citizens need to arm themselves with knowledge and be steps ahead of marauding criminals. In these crime-ridden times, Ethekwini Secure has also initiated a Worshipper Protection Initiative to safeguard worshippers at their places of worship. This is a volunteer programme encompassing CPF’s, NHW’s, Private Security Companies and several Law Enforcement Agencies from SAPS, SMU to Metro, who attended prayer centres in 2017 to protect the congregants at the various Mosques, Temples and Churches. We are looking to reintroduce the programme this year on a larger scale. We have also looked at the vulnerability of worshippers families at home and encourage the use of the Zello app which will ensure that any members at risk will receive immediate assistance whilst their menfolk etc. are out at prayers,” said Soosiwala.

He urged citizens to keep up with technology trends and use available free apps at their disposal to secure assistance should they witness or experience crime incidents. “The public needs to be aware that criminals are no longer operating under the cover of darkness. They strike at free will. By day or early into the night. Citizens need to be alert and vigilant. Report suspicious persons and any strange vehicles. Familiarising one-self with crime-fighting apps is certainly beneficial. ECSA is doing a great job in trying to assist people via the use of apps whilst Ethekwini Secure and Zello have also proven its validity,” Soosiwala added.

For more information on the Ethekwini Secure and Zello apps, contact Zain Soosiwala on 083 786 5096.