Most wanted ’hijacker’, Skumbuzo Shange in court to answer to 12 charges

By Mervyn Naidoo Time of article published Dec 5, 2021

Share this article:

THE man who police listed as their “most wanted” hijacking suspect before his arrest in 2017, testified in court this week.

Skumbuzo Shange appeared before Acting Magistrate Aida van Vuuren at the Durban Regional Court in connection with 12 charges brought against him by the State.

Eight of those charges were related to hijacking incidents (robbery with aggravating circumstances).

In the remaining counts, it was alleged that Shange was unlawfully in possession of firearms, ammunition, and property belonging to victims.

Police believed the pint-sized Shange to be the kingpin in a hijacking gang, who preyed on victims mainly in the Pinetown, Westville and Queensburgh communities, and also targeted elderly people.

The counts presently being dealt with in court were for incidents from 2011 to his arrest in January 2017.

Shange was also arrested in 2011 on hijacking related charges but released after the State withdrew due to technical issues.

However, in the current matter, State prosecutor advocate Kuveshini Pillay stated that Shange’s fingerprints were found on the inside of each of the eight vehicles that were hijacked.

Sergeant Clint Pillay from the SAPS eThekwini District Detectives unit has led the investigation.

Shange, 43, has maintained his innocence, denied the allegations against him and described himself to be a dedicated fast-food vendor, who operated from a corrugated metal stall at his home in Dassenhoek, near Marrianhill.

He told the court his business earned around R500 a day, but was unable to tell the court his average monthly income was.

Shange was unable to recall his whereabouts on the days of the hijackings.

His explanation for his fingerprints being lifted from all the stolen vehicles in question was that his friend “Mike” would bring the cars to him and he boarded them.

He insisted that he never knew the vehicles were stolen.

Shange described Mike as a long-time friend and he never questioned him about the cars he drove, did not know Mike’s surname and he was presently unaware of his location.

During cross-examination he accused the arresting officers with fabricating evidence against him - three of the arresting team members gave evidence as State witnesses during previous court sessions.

On the day of his arrest, January 23, 2017, it was alleged that Shange and his gang hijacked the now 80-year-old Ignatius Potgieter, who was parked on Pioneer Road in New Germany.

Potgieter was seated in his white H100 Hyundai Bakkie when two men armed with guns approached him.

As he got off his vehicle, the gunmen noticed he had a Glock pistol in his hand and shot at him.

Potgieter was struck in his stomach and left leg, he fell to the ground and lost control of his gun.

His pistol and vehicle were taken by robbers. His wallet and live ammunition were inside the vehicle.

Shange denied involvement in hijacking. He said he took his child, via taxi, to Clermont, near New Germany, to attend school that morning.

Thereafter, he phoned Mike for a lift to a local Bluff Meats outlet before his return to Dasenhoek.

Shange confirmed that Mike arrived in the H100 bakkie but didn’t know why they used a smaller vehicle later.

Advocate Pillay questioned why didn’t know Mike’s surname and the wide range of vehicles at his disposal.

She found it odd that Shange had operated a fast-food outlet for more than a decade, yet he did not know what his monthly earning was.

“That’s because your business involves unlawful activities, like stealing cars.”

Pillay also suggested that Shange was making-up his version as he went along because she noticed he brought to light certain issues, while on the witness stand, that his attorney had not raised previously.

Magistrate Van Vuurven probed Shange about how his fingerprints in the H100 and his version of events.

She said: “Potgieter was robbed at 7:10am, at 7.30am police received information it was in Kwadabeka and by 10.35 fingerprints were taken.

“So, when did Mike pick you up and drive you around in the bakkie because there wasn’t much time?

Shange said he was not aware about the bakkie being stolen and recovered and suggested that a vehicle could travel to many places in 30 minutes.

The matter resumes this week.

SUNDAY TRIBUNE

Share this article: