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KZN athlete chases after car thief

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Allied Picture Press/APN

Marathon runner Aldon Pretorius, 35, (above) chased a would-be car thief who tried to steal his bakkie from the Durban Magistrates Court parking. With the help of police, two men were arrested by unnamed police officers. Picture: Allied Press/APN

Durban - After completing the Hillcrest Marathon on Sunday, the last thing Durban resident Aldon Pretorius felt like doing on Monday morning was sprinting after a thief.

But he was determined not to let the man – who had tried to steal his car – get away.

“I had parked my car off Stalwart Simelane (Stanger) Street by CR Swart (Durban Central) police station at the Durban Magistrate’s Court at about 9.10am,” recalled Pretorius, 35, who owns an engineering workshop in Glen Anil.

“I went into the court but it was very slow. My mom was with me so I asked her to call if there was any update because I wanted to quickly go back to my workshop.”

Pretorius left the court at about 10am and as he was walking towards his Nissan 1400 Champ he heard a noise which sounded like his car.

“I saw a young guy, in my car, dressed in grey overalls. He was quite nervous, looking around, so I didn’t walk to the bakkie, I walked just past it and then turned around so I wouldn’t scare him off.”

Pretorius said at that moment the suspect realised he was the car owner and jumped out the driver’s side. “I kicked the door to stop him but he got away so I chased him down.”

The four-time Comrades Marathon runner chased the suspect for about 30 seconds, all the while calling for people to stop him. A detective in his car managed to corner the suspect, he was apprehended by Pretorius and arrested on scene.

“He (the suspect) told the police that I was trying to hit him, but when they went back to my car, they found the T-spanner he had used to break into the car and try start the ignition.”

Pretorius said he understood another suspect was found in the parking lot, believed to be “in cahoots” with the man trying to steal his car, but the police did not confirm this.

“These guys are so brazen, trying to steal a car in broad daylight right by the police station,” he said.

Benjamin Ngwane, head of security at Durban Magistrate’s Court, said there was no security outside the courthouse – only at the entry points of the court.

“There used to be car guards but we had a lot of problems. Parking, like all public parking, is at the owner’s risk. We were getting reports that car guards were trying to break into cars or damaging cars when people refused to pay and people thought the car guards reported to us. They were bringing lots of problems so they aren’t there any more.”

Court manager Mzikayifani Hlatshwayo confirmed there was no security presence in the parking area and said he was not aware of any car break-ins.

Police spokesman, Captain Thulani Zwane, said a 24-year-old suspect was arrested and charged with attempted theft of a motor vehicle.

Asked whether there had been previous incidents of theft of motor vehicles outside the court, Zwane said no reports had been received.

lauren.anthony@inl.co.za

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