File picture: Picture: Sibusiso Ndlovu / Independent Media.
Johannesburg - Authorities have warned motorists about new strategies that robbers and hijackers are using in parts of the country, including Gauteng.

Apart from criminals hurling rocks and large stones from bridges at passing motorists on the highways, they are also placing various things on the roads in a bid to stop vehicles.

Joburg Metro Police Department (JMPD) Chief Superintendent Wayne Minnaar said the N12 near Lenasia was particularly affected.

“In this area and others as well, people are placing rocks, bricks and other stuff in the road, which forces motorists to slow down and allows the criminals to rob them of their possessions or hijack them.”

He added that this usually occurred late at night, when motorists were most vulnerable.

Although the JMPD was aware of the latest trend and was monitoring this affected area and other hot spots, Minnaar said it was very difficult to catch the perpetrators.

“The problem we have is that they often run away or hide in the nearby bushes.”

Despite the challenges the police face, they have arrested one person this month who is believed to have been involved in the new “crime trend”.

Minnaar advised motorists to be extra vigilant while driving and to be aware of their surroundings.

“Be vigilant and observant so you don’t become a victim.”

Apart from placing rocks and bricks on the road, there have also been several cases of criminals throwing them at passing vehicles.

According to social media reports, this has happened at least three times in Joburg and another three in KwaZulu-Natal in the past three weeks alone.

These provinces are believed to be the most affected. One of the latest rock-throwing incidents, off a bridge, took place last weekend when a woman’s BMW was hit while she was travelling along the N12, between the Golden Highway and N1 split in Freedom Park.

Although the rock damaged the bonnet and sunroof, the woman managed to escape without any injuries as she simply drove off after the incident. Gauteng police spokesperson Lieutenant-Colonel Lungelo Dlamini encouraged motorists who have been affected to report the matter to the police instead of just posting about it on social media.

“There were several incidents that were reported but most of them appeared on social media,” he said.

“Motorists should report all cases at the police station.”

In a bid to fight this phenomenon and others related to it, Dlamini echoed Minnaar’s sentiments and said the metro police had stepped up patrols in areas suspected to be affected.

“Metro police have recently commented about their activities on the highways to prevent these incidents.”

Dlamini said his office did not have the figures of the number of incidents which have taken place.

Saturday Star