Durban - Eighteen people were arrested for suspected theft of road guard rails in Hillcrest, the KwaZulu-Natal transport department said on Saturday.
Spokesman Kwanele Ncalane said they were arrested on Shongweni Road, near Hillcrest, off the N3 and M13 on Friday night.
“The arrest came as government intensifies its clamp down on crime, fraud and corruption generally but specifically to eliminate factors contributing to road deaths,” he said.
He said a department's area foreman caught the men in the act at about 9pm, and alerted the Durban regional head.
“Hillcrest police and the department's road traffic inspectorate (RTI) members were immediately called to arrest the suspects, three South Africans and 15 foreign nationals. A case of theft was opened by the police.”
He said the 18 wore safety jackets to create the impression they were legitimate road workers.
“A similar case was reported in Verulam last month, which indicates a growing trend of this type of crime, which is causing the loss of millions of rand's worth of public property.”
He said the 8-ton truck they were using did not have number plates, but a temporary licence paper usually given to newly acquired vehicles.
Transport MEC Willies Mchunu has lauded the swift response by the police and RTI members.
“Our province experiences an unacceptable rate of road accidents, crashes, and fatalities, partly due to theft of public property including guard rails and road signs used as safety measures,” Mchunu said.
“It is becoming clear that what we have is a syndicate that is all out to endanger the lives of road users and motorists in their quest to score profits through illicit means.” - Sapa