Johannesburg - A Joburg metro police officer went undercover to pull off a dramatic sting where the Hawks nabbed six hijackers moments before they pounced on a truck full of washing powder on Thursday.
Six men aged between 25 and 35 now face several charges relating to the attempted hijacking and for impersonating a policeman after an Ekurhuleni metro police department (EMPD) uniform was discovered in their possession.
The arrests may never have happened if it weren’t for Soweto-based Joburg metro officer Sergeant Phineas Manyama, who received a call from one of the gang members on Sunday.
“This man said to the sergeant he needs his help to hijack a truck and he will get his share,” said Joburg metro police department (JMPD) spokesman Chief Superintendent Wayne Minnaar on Friday morning.
When Manyama asked the man how he got his number, the gangster told him that he was given his contact details by another JMPD officer.
Minnaar said that investigators were also trying to get a warrant to arrest the JMPD officer named in the phone call by the gang member.
Manyama immediately informed the police and the JMPD about the call and the Hawks were brought in to investigate.
The Hawks instructed him to take further calls from the gangster and pretend to be interested in helping with the hijacking so that they could snare him and his fellow gangsters in the act.
On Thursday, Manyama received a call from the man asking for help on a hit on a truck in Orkney, North West, and officers from the Gauteng Hawks mobilised.
Using six vehicles, the Hawks surrounded the men just moments before the hijacking was scheduled to take place and arrested all of them without any injuries.
“I do confirm the arrests, but I still need to talk to the team to get the details,” said Hawks spokesman Captain Paul Ramaloko this morning.
Minnaar applauded Manyama, who he said showed “great dedication and loyalty” to policing.
“The truck was carrying washing powder detergent. There were boxes and boxes full of it,” said Minnaar.
One of the men was found wearing an EMPD uniform and a vehicle tracking jammer was also discovered on one of the suspects.
Minnaar said that the men face charges of conspiracy to commit a crime, impersonating a metro police officer, attempted hijacking and contravening the communications act, which relates to the jammer.
But EMPD spokesman Inspector Kobeli Mokheseng said they had not been informed of the use of their uniforms. ”We’ll just have to wait for the JMPD report and we’ll take it from there,” he said.
The six alleged hijackers are expected to appear in the Westonaria Magistrate’s Court on Monday.
* In June, The Star revealed at least two top police officers were being investigated for using their subordinates to pull off truck hijackings.
This was in the wake of the arrest of an off-duty sergeant in the Joburg flying squad for his involvement in a truck hijacking in Crystal Road in Booysens, south of Joburg.
In this incident, the sergeant and three other men arrested were dressed as JMPD officers and pulled the truck over before they bundled its driver into one of their vehicles at gunpoint.
They eventually dropped him off near Brits, North West.