Durban - Amed with a toy gun, a man claiming to be a police officer approached motorists, point out defects on their vehicles and then ask them for money to avoid being arrested, the Pietermaritzburg Regional Court heard on Tuesday.
Sheldon Rajah, 28, is facing charges of impersonating a police officer, robbery, attempted robbery, theft, malicious injury to property and driving without reasonable consideration for other road users.
The Copesville man has pleaded not guilty.
According to the charge sheet, on August 14, 2012, Rajah stopped alongside a vehicle in Chapel Street, Pietermaritzburg, and pointed a black toy gun at the driver, Mthokozisi Xaba.
He allegedly told Xaba that if he did not give him cash, he would impound his vehicle. Xaba handed over R200.
Rajah is alleged to have pulled the same ruse on the same day in Olympia Way, where he pulled up alongside a stationary car and demanded cash from the driver, Rithen Mahabeer, and his passenger, Shandrak Pillay.
Rajah is alleged to have hit Mahabeer over the head with the toy gun when he refused to give him money.
It is alleged that Rajah damaged the side mirror on Mahabeer’s vehicle and then made off with his cellphone and car keys.
The charge of theft relates to an incident where Rajah allegedly stole 8.25 litres of petrol worth R100 from a Shell Garage in May 2012.
Rajah’s alleged accomplice, Antony Govender, 31, who has turned State witness, testified on Tuesday.
He said that on August 14, 2012 he had been “intoxicated” and could not drive, so Rajah had driven his car.
“When we came across the stationary car in Olympia Way, I didn’t know why Sheldon was stopping. I saw him approach the driver and heard him say he was a police officer and that the car was unroadworthy,” Govender said.
He said Rajah told the driver that the car had a defective tyre and that to avoid arrest and the car being impounded, he should hand over money.
“Then I saw Sheldon hit the driver. I don’t know if he managed to get any money. I was shocked at what was happening,” Govender said.
Later that night, they came across another car parked in Chapel Street with the driver behind the wheel. Rajah, also armed with a plastic toy gun, approached the driver, the court heard.
“At the time I believed it was real. He told the driver he was a policeman and demanded money to avoid arrest, telling the driver the car was unroadworthy,” Govender testified.
“I saw the driver give him money, but I’m not sure how much.”
The trial is proceeding.