Motorist tortured by criminals as hijackers back on the road as lockdown eases

By Tanya Waterworth Time of article published May 16, 2020

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Durban - Hijackers are back at work and it’s business as usual.

That’s the finding from vehicle recovery company Tracker, whose statistics revealed this week that as the lockdown eased to level 4, criminals were back on the road.

Last night, a resident of Woodview, Phoenix, was injured after he was assaulted by armed suspects during a hijacking at his home.

The Reaction Unit South Africa (Rusa) responded to multiple calls from residents at about 5.15pm reporting shots being fired.

Reaction officers and medics were dispatched and found the victim bleeding from a head wound suffered when one of the attackers assaulted him.

A visitor had been driving in to the man's yard when four men ran in. They assaulted the homeowner with the butt of a firearm and locked him in the bathroom.

The victim freed himself and, as the suspects were driving out of the property in the visitor's car, the victim opened fire on them. The suspects abandoned car and fled. The victim was treated on the scene.

A search was on last night.

On Wednesday, a 49-year-old man was hijacked in the Springfield Park area at about 9.30am and allegedly abducted and tortured.

He was taken to an unknown location where he was assaulted and had boiling water poured over him as the hijackers demanded his home address and cash.

Marshall Security and Crisis Medical spokesperson Kyle van Reenan said they were called to the victim’s home in Beachway Road in Durban North.

Van Reenan said the victim reported that after the hijacking, he had been taken to his home where the suspects stole cash.

“The victim sustained second-degree burn wounds to 20% of his body" and is in hospital.

Yesterday, SAPS spokesperson Colonel Thembeka Mbele confirmed that a case of kidnapping had been opened at the Greenwood Park Police Station.

During the first week of lockdown, Tracker’s data indicated there was a 90% reduction in hijackings, with police also reporting that hijackings, and business and house robberies had significantly declined.

But the latest statistics have shown that during the two-week extension of the level 5 hard lockdown, criminals were back in action, with the number of vehicle recoveries increasing three-fold compared with the first week.

In the first week of level 4, with more vehicles on the road, there was a six-fold increase in vehicle recovery activities over the first week.

“Vehicle crime activities are set to rise even further, back to the same levels or even higher” as South Africans return to work and criminals resume their operations, according to Ron Knott-Craig, executive operational services at Tracker South Africa.

“We are already seeing an escalation in crime activity as vehicle movement increases, and we expect to get back to pre-Covid-19 vehicle crime levels possibly as early as this (coming) week.

“Like the rest of the country, criminals are resuming their activities under eased restrictions,” said Knott-Craig.

There was also “a noticeable increase” in vehicles being targeted for their loads, particularly food and fast-moving consumable goods.

Data on hijacking locations indicated 85% of hijackings were street robberies, with far fewer occurrences taking place in driveways.

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