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Glenridge, Soweto, was a hive of activity on Monday morning when a botched hijacking ended in a high-speed chase and a shoot-out – and one of the suspects caught in a police officer’s garden.
It began around 9am when a group of thugs in two cars hijacked a delivery truck in Randfontein.
What followed was a series of comical incidents that saw the robbers jumping out of moving vehicles, an ensuing shoot-out, and one of the gang members scaling a wall – only to find himself caught inside a metro police officer’s yard.
Protea Glen police spokesman Constable Vincent Mashiteng said “a silver Audi and white Toyota Quantum minibus made off with 12 boxes of cigarettes, which they loaded into the Quantum before speeding off on the N12”.
But just when they thought they were in the clear, several Fidelity Security vehicles were on their tail, having been alerted to the hijacking by the tobacco firm for which they do security intelligence.
The Audi managed to get away, but the minibus and the four suspects couldn’t shake off the security team.
“As the chase continued, the Quantum driver swerved into the Glenridge Extension 16 residential area in panic. It was then that a shoot-out ensued,” said Mashiteng.
The hijackers in the Quantum panicked and began jumping out of their getaway vehicle while it was moving.
They began jumping over walls and ran through people’s yards, making their escape.
Eventually, only the driver was left in the minibus. He too jumped out of the moving Quantum, which then crashed into a heap of rubble.
“The driver jumped over a couple of walls before, unknowingly, landing in the yard of a JMPD officer. He was spotted by the gardener and, together with the off-duty officer, they tried to pursue the suspect, but soon lost sight of him,” said Mashiteng.
Less than an hour later, while the officer was heading to work with her lift club, she spotted the suspect walking on the side of the road.
“She recognised him by his red golf shirt,” said Mashiteng.
She and her colleagues searched and arrested him, still unaware of the crime he had committed.
“When she took him back to her house so that her gardener could verify it really was him, she came across the crime scene a few streets away,” said Mashiteng.
The man was arrested on the spot.
“With the help of intelligence units that had already been scouting these guys, we have pictures of them. More arrests are imminent.”
A 40-year-old resident of Glenridge said that at first she thought the loud noises were fireworks.
“I was sitting in my kitchen drinking tea when I heard a banging sound, I thought it was fireworks,” said the woman, who did not want to be identified in fear the hijackers would come for her.
“I then heard it again, almost five times, and then I knew it was gunshots. I got on the floor and crawled in search of my phone,” she said. “I actually thought they were shooting at me.”
When she finally built up the courage to go out, she saw many police cars.
She had been living in the area for more than six years but had never been so scared.
“I don’t even know what happened to my tea.”