KwaZulu-Natal - Three men, believed to be eThekwini metro police officers, are on the run after the brutal hijacking, kidnapping and robbery of a wealthy Umhlanga businessman.
While the three alleged “rogue cops” are on the run, the fourth alleged member of the gang was caught and is facing hijacking and robbery charges.
Yesterday 29-year-old Mondli Knowledge Malevu, an eThekwini metro constable, appeared in the Durban Magistrate’s Court. Malevu appeared tired and dishevelled. He was remanded at the Bellair police cells until his next court appearance this week, while he seeks legal representation.
Police are still searching for the other men.
Malevu and the men, one wearing a metro police reflector jacket and cap and using a metro police minibus, allegedly flagged down an Umhlanga businessman just after 4pm on Tuesday afternoon in uMhlathuzana Road, Seaview.
The businessman was asked for his driver’s licence, which he presented, and was then told the licence disc on his car had expired. The man’s vehicle was only four months old.
He was pushed into his vehicle, while one “officer” stayed with the police vehicle. He was taken to an ATM where the officers withdrew cash. Then they tied him up and asked where he lived. Despite him giving them the wrong address, they still drove to his proper address in Umhlanga Ridge.
However, seeing cars in the driveway of friends who had arrived to celebrate his daughter’s birthday, the men drove him back to his business premises in Seaview. The robbers tied up the security guard and pushed him into the vehicle as well. R170 000 was stolen.
Prosecutor Blackie Swart said in court that at this stage they did not know who the other three “officers” were.
Metro police spokesman senior superintendent Eugene Msomi said the force was ashamed to hear about the robbery allegedly involving four of their officers. The force had no room for rogue officers.
Metro police were fully co-operating with their SAPS colleagues. “The investigating officer has come to our offices and we have information on the vehicle involved and who was supposed to be driving it,” he said.
“People will now be scared to stop if they are flagged down by a metro police officer, fearing they might also be the target of crooked officers.”
Advising motorists on what procedure to follow if they were not comfortable with stopping after being flagged down by an officer, Msomi said they should not speed off.
“You should slow down, hand signal for the officer to follow you to the nearest police station, garage or safe public place. If it is a legitimate officer he will follow you. But if you speed off and try to outrun them, they will shoot you…”
SAPS spokesman Colonel Jay Naicker said while this was an isolated incident, if people felt uncertain about stopping they were welcome to drive to their nearest police station.
Dianne Kohler Barnard, the DA police spokeswoman, said it did not surprise her that metro officials were abusing their positions for criminal gain.
She feared that the “officers” who were on the run may be “armed and dangerous”.
“The number of officers who have criminal records is disturbing, there are more than 1 000 of them, and we are not talking about simple traffic fines here,” she said.
In Parliament yesterday, Kohler Barnard said about 500 officers had been found guilty of aiding an escapee, but only 40 had been dismissed.
“This just reveals how corruption is right at the core, we are reaching the point of no return,” said Kohler Barnard.
- Independent on Saturday