Joburg crime intelligence officials have impounded a vehicle believed to be a clone of a Durban car and are including it in an investigation into crimes of armed robbery, housebreaking, vehicle theft and fraud.
The suspect vehicle, a silver Honda Civic, is a replica of a Durban woman’s car and has notched up R460 in e-toll fees that the Durban owner of the original car, Helen Ziegler, has been billed for.
Police have not arrested the driver of the alleged car as it was mysteriously left outside a police station after investigators made contact with the owner, questioning the whereabouts of the vehicle.
Police are now investigating the case and examining the car.
Ziegler told The Star’s sister paper, The Mercury, last week how she had never driven her car out of Durban, yet received a Joburg speeding fine last year and two e-toll bills last week.
The photograph of the car on the speeding fine sent to her showed a replica of her car. Simultaneously, an SAPS official in Joburg made contact with her a day after she received the e-toll bills and questioned her about her car.
He told her that crime intelligence was investigating cases of armed robbery and housebreaking in which their car was alleged to be involved. After she informed them of the fine and e-toll bill, they realised that a car with cloned number plates was driving on Joburg roads.
Police officials told The Mercury they had tracked the car’s whereabouts and went to the owner’s house to question him last Thursday.
“When we got there, we were told that he had just left to go to Soweto,” an officer said. “I then phoned the driver and asked him where the car was, to which he replied that he was driving it. He said he would meet me the next day.”
When police officers arrived at work the next day, a Friday, the car was parked in front of their offices with the keys left in the cubbyhole. An examination showed that the car’s serial numbers were either fake or nonexistent.
The vehicle is now in the police pound while investigations continue. Another police official said the suspect car’s owner could also be charged with theft and fraud.
Ziegler said she was relieved the duplicate car had been traced.
Police investigating the duplicate car said they would write an affidavit stating that the e-toll bills were not hers.
ANOTHER ERRONEOUS E-TOLL BILL
Meanwhile, another Durban motorist has racked up e-toll bills without having left Durban.
Student Alice Cochrane-Murray, 23, said she had bought her white VW Polo in October last year and had never driven out of Durban.
However, she has been billed more than R700 in e-tolls and is bracing herself for more. “Since I got the car I have not left the city once.”
Cochrane-Murray said she received a bill for about R300 in the mail, and on querying this with Sanral, was told that there were more bills she had not paid.
Sanral spokesman Vusi Mona said last week that motorists who had been billed in error could make representation to the roads agency.