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Crashes put brakes on anti-hijack unit's launch

Crime & Courts
Pretoria – The metro has still not launched its anti-hijack unit – part of the Tshwane Metro Police Department – because six of the 10 luxury vehicles dedicated for the purpose have been involved in accidents.

The remaining four are believed to be in bad condition and not in a position to meet the demands of the unit.

The “new” BMW 3 Series were purchased by the city last year and have an estimated value of R5 million.

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Executive mayor Solly Msimanga refused to use vehicles which were meant for politicians and opted to donate them to the anti-hijack unit. 
Picture: Thobile Mathonsi

The deal was procured by the former ANC administration. The cars were to be used by MMCs and senior officials.

However, after the DA won control of the city, incumbent executive mayor Solly Msimanga refused to use the vehicles and opted to donate them to the anti-hijack unit

The Pretoria News has since learnt that some of the cars are now in bad condition, which forced the city to delay the launch of the unit.

Msimanga spoke again last week about the donation of the vehicles to the anti-hijack unit, but did not mention anything about their state of roadworthiness.

Msimanga said the “new luxury BMW vehicles bought for politicians” by the ANC-led administration had high-capacity engine power and would be used to prevent and respond to hijackings.

They would also be used for high-speed chases and provide a fast response, the mayor said.

Msimanga grabbed headlines last year when he publicly rejected the vehicles and banned the purchase or leasing of luxury vehicles for official city use.

Metro police chief Steven Ngobeni was alleged to have been an occupant of one of the vehicles when it was involved in an accident while being driven by a junior in his department.

Ngobeni flatly denied the claim. He said the accident occurred in December after his departmental vehicle had a breakdown, and he had to borrow one of the new vehicles.

“I was dropped off by a metro police officer at home and on his way back to the office he was involved in an accident,” he said.

It was untrue that six vehicles were involved in accidents; only two had been, Ngobeni said. He also rejected claims that the vehicles were not roadworthy.

But according to MMC for Community Safety Anniruth Kissundooth, the 10 vehicles were not in good condition. He said this was the reason the city had had to delay the launch of the anti-hijack unit. “We have put it on hold short-term until we are fully equipped,” Kissundooth said.

Six of the vehicles had been involved in accidents, while the other four had mechanical problems, he said.

The city had planned to launch the unit soon, with a view to tackling the high incidence of hijackings in the capital city, Kissundooth said.

“Hijacking is quite a big problem in the country.”

At least 74 metro police officers have already undergone training under the South African National Defence Force to man the unit.

“Once the unit has been launched, there will be more training,” Kissundooth said.

Msimanga said the unit was in line with the DA pre-election manifesto, which stated that to make communities safe, specialist crime prevention units would be established to focus on specific priority crimes such as gangsterism and drugs.

“We will keep to this promise. Plans are under way to officially launch the new anti-hijack unit within the metro police department.”

Pretoria News

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