Fearless Tshenolo PI gains popularity in fighting hijackers, recovering stolen cars

Members of the Tshenolo Private Investigations' tactical units. Photo: Supplied

Members of the Tshenolo Private Investigations' tactical units. Photo: Supplied

Published Sep 23, 2022


Pretoria – Statistics South Africa recently raised the alarm on the “significant” increase in hijackings across South Africa over the past 12 months.

Releasing the results of the Victims of Crime Report from the Governance, Public Safety and Justice Survey (GPSJS) 2021/22 at a media briefing in Pretoria, Statistician-General Risenga Maluleke said there has been a marked increase in hijackings.

In June, Gauteng police commissioner Lieutenant-General Elias Mawela said hijackings, kidnappings and murders top the list of serious offences committed in all districts of the highly-populated province, including Tshwane, Joburg and Ekurhuleni metros.

Mawela was presenting the Gauteng crime statistics for the financial year which ended on March 31, to the provincial legislature sitting at the Randfontein Municipal building.

He said hijacking of trucks and passenger vehicles had increased in Gauteng compared to the same period last year.

“Our analysis reveals that vehicles are hijacked in Gauteng for the following reasons: Uber taxis are taken for transport purposes and abandoned by those who do not have means for transport late at night,” said the provincial police chief.

“Old cars are taken for selling spare parts or to rebuild other cars, while luxury cars are taken for further use in the commission of other crimes such as cash-in-transit (CIT) robberies, house and business robberies, while others are used for illegal exports,” he said.

Despite the alarm, despondency and anxiety, a browse through social media platforms, particularly Facebook, shows that hundreds of South Africans throw their weight behind the work of emerging private security team Tshenolo Private Investigations (PI) which gaining endearment through its posts of regular successes.

The regular updates on the Tshenolo PI social media pages reveal successes in the fight against crime. Picture: Screenshot

Almost on a daily basis, the Tshenolo PI page on Facebook is awash with safety tips, recovered vehicles and dangerous criminals arrested in conjunction with police.

Thousands of people widely share some of these tips, with many users encouraging the security outfit to grow its tentacles across the country.

Members of the Tshenolo Private Investigations' tactical units. Picture: Supplied

IOL sought an interview with the brains and muscles behind the viral Facebook posts of successfully recovered vehicles and happy customers. Due to security concerns, the two officials who sat down with IOL in Pretoria requested that their names and identity be withheld.

Nkosi and Themba (not their real names) highlighted that their training and experience while previously working for the South African Police Service (SAPS) is the cornerstone of their current popularity.

“We are driven by the love for the job that we are doing. We are now doing this work because we had always wanted to cover a broader spectrum. In 2019, we started studying private investigations, we experimented to see if this would work. One could not just resign from a job in the police without assurance of what we were trying to do,” said Nkosi.

The regular updates on the Tshenolo PI social media pages reveal successes in the fight against crime. Picture: Screenshot

“In 2020, we went through the registration processes and we started serving the people. At the moment, we are running on a small team of just 11 who do private investigations and management. We have about 21 members who do duties including guarding, patrols,” he said.

Nkosi said it was paramount that their entity should be fully compliant with the regulations of the Private Security Industry Regulatory Authority (PSIRA), the Department of Employment and Labour and the SA Revenue Service from the onset.

Themba said combating runaway crime in South Africa requires cooperation among private security companies, police and other law enforcement agencies.

“You will find that the well-established companies are reluctant to go to a place like Soshanguve to recover a stolen car. We have no problem with going there, and that is why the well-established companies give us the work sometimes. We are not afraid in what we do and that also contributes to our rate of success,” he said.

The regular updates on the Tshenolo PI social media pages reveal successes in the fight against crime. Picture: Screenshot

“We are grateful for the support we are getting from the South African communities. We are constantly getting positive reviews and we cannot rest until our communities are safe. It is not only the responsibility of police to ensure that there is safety. We decided not to be observers, but to get involved,” he said.

Themba said that quite often they get distress calls from people who have been scammed in jobs or love set-ups.

“Lately, we are coming across women who have been swindled of all their savings, and sometimes forced to resign from work. Tracing the perpetrators can be challenging because even when we apprehend them, the court can grant them bail and then they vanish,” he said.

Releasing the first quarter crime statistics for 2022/23 in Pretoria last month, Police Minister Bheki Cele revealed that the murder rate across South Africa “remains high and worrisome”.

He said: “6 424 people were killed by other persons in South Africa in the first quarter of 2022/2023 financial year. This is an increase of 664 more people murdered, compared to the same period last year, when the country was placed under Covid-19 lockdown level one and two.

“The three main causes for murders remain arguments and misunderstandings. Retaliations and revenge murders were second motive for murder and vigilantism was the third most likely cause of murder in South Africa.”