Durban - When a supermarket manager saw a police van parked across the road as he was locking up the store after working a double shift late on Monday night, he felt safe.
But when the fully marked police van with flashing blue lights and a siren began tailing Joey Pillay as he drove to his Moses Kotane (Sparks) Road, Overport home, he became suspicious.
Pillay lives about 3km away from his work at the Model KwikSpar in Mayville, which is right next door to the police station.
CCTV footage from the store showed the same police van circling the store several times from 7.45pm on Monday.
The store had closed at 8pm and Pillay was locking up when he spotted the police vehicle parked on an island across the road.
“I did not suspect anything as the police station is right next door. In fact, I felt safe knowing the police were around,” he said. The police van began tailing him in Moses Kotane Road, he said.
“It was a brand new, dark blue Nissan bakkie. It was fully marked and there were about five men in it. They were all dressed in police uniform with reflector jackets and beanies on their heads.”
He said he tried to dodge the van by turning into RD Naidu (Stanley Copley) Drive.
“They were not giving up. By this time blue lights were flashing and I could hear a siren.
“The policemen were indicating that I should pull over to the side of the road.”
Pillay said when he stopped, the policemen alighted from the vehicle and began banging on the boot of his car.
“They demanded to know where the drugs were and who I was selling it to. There were a lot of people around and they tried to make me look like a criminal.”
He said the policemen were wearing white surgical gloves and they were not armed.
“I did not see any guns or knives. I tried looking for their holsters but did not see any,” he said.
He said he told the policemen to take him to the nearest police station and he would co-operate with them.
“They refused. They said they were from a special task team and were investigating me for dealing in drugs,” Pillay said.
By this time a second vehicle – a Hyundai Tucson – appeared with another three “policemen”.
“I was bundled into this vehicle with three of the policemen. At this point, I realised they were not real policemen. They demanded the keys for the store and the safe.”
One of the policemen drove Pillay’s vehicle.
Pillay said he told them he did not have the safe keys. They were held by the security company. Pillay gave them the store keys.
He said they drove around for almost an hour.
“At Cato Manor a police van drove past us.
“The fake policemen panicked and began driving at high speed. They were talking in Zulu and I could not understand what they were saying.”
Pillay said the anti-hijacking device had been activated on his car and the suspects had been forced to abandon it in Felix Dlamini (Brickfield) Road.
“The driver of my car phoned one of the men in the Tucson and asked him what he should do as the car had switched off. They were worried about patrolling vehicles and opted to abandon it.”
Pillay said they eventually stopped at a secluded spot in Cato Crest and ordered him out of the vehicle.
“They took my wedding ring, wallet and cellphone. At this point I thought I was a dead man. Fortunately they just left me there and sped off.”
Pillay said he walked to a spaza shop.
“I managed to phone a relative who alerted police.
“Fortunately, my brother was driving along Brickfield Road when he spotted my abandoned car.
“The hazards were on and doors were open. He alerted police and they were already searching for me.”
Police spokesman, Captain Thulani Zwane, said Mayville policemen searched the area where Pillay’s car had been found.
A man wearing a police jacket and reflector vest was spotted by police.
Zwane said the 33-year-old man was arrested. He was found in possession of the shop keys.
He is expected to appear in the Durban Magistrate’s Court on Thursday on charges of hijacking, kidnapping, robbery and impersonating a policeman.
Zwane said the arrested suspect had no links to police.
He said they were investigating if policemen were involved and if the marked vehicle was real or fake.