Cape Town - Three men were charged with attempted robbery after they were bust for attempting to hijack a motorcyclist at gunpoint in Muizenberg.
Cape law enforcement officers were on patrol in Muizenberg when they noticed three persons attempting to hijack a motorcyclist on the side of Prince George Drive.
On Wednesday, Mayco member for safety and security, JP Smith, said: “Officers quickly departed from their vehicle to give chase to the suspects, who then fled. Officers called for additional backup, then set off in pursuit of the armed suspect.
“He was eventually captured and it was discovered his firearm was a replica imitation firearm. Further questioning led the officers to another premises, where the second suspect was discovered hiding under a bed, and the third suspect was taken into custody a short while later,” Smith said.
All three suspects were charged with attempted robbery while one of the suspects was charged with armed robbery.
“An increasing amount of crimes are being committed where it is later discovered the weapon is that of an imitation or replica firearm. In many instances these replicas even produce a loud noise like that of a real firearm being discharged.
“When enforcement staff are faced with such a situation, it is often impossible to verify the authenticity of such a weapon without first manually inspecting it,” Smith said. “Unable to deny the clear and present danger within such violent confrontations, officers need to presume it to be a real firearm and take appropriate action where needed in order to defend themselves or those around them.
“Fortunately in this incident, officers were able to apprehend the suspect without discharging any weapons,” he said. “The growing concern of replica firearms being used increasingly in violent, confrontation crimes just further highlights the urgent need for improved national legislation.
“Present legislation only makes it a criminal offence to use such imitation firearms to commit a crime, but does not prohibit the actual possession of such imitation replica firearms.
“Since there is no indication that this will be addressed any time soon, the Portfolio Committee is already considering the amendments to the Streets by-law,” Smith said.
He said these amendments would then seek to make it an offence to be in possession of any such imitation firearm, where such a firearm does not have the end of the barrel painted bright orange as is already the law in some parts of the world, or otherwise which the imitation firearm can be visibly marked in a similar fashion.
“I take my hat off to these brave officers. Not only must I congratulate them for being observant while going about their duties, but when they noticed the life of another being threatened, they immediately put their own lives at risk in order to protect the life of a stranger.
“It is this commitment to duty, these selfless acts of bravery and courage that have already caused our directorate to be one of the most respected in South Africa,” Smith said.
“To all these officers, I thank you.”