Pretoria – Mpumalanga MEC for Community Safety, Security and Liaison, Vusi Shongwe, has appealed to communities to avoid hitch-hiking when travelling, as the authorities have observed a growing trend of hitch-hikers being subjected to crime in the private vehicles.
Shongwe said many people who ask for lifts from strangers, at times become victims of crime including sexual abuse but in the worst cases, they never reach their intended destinations.
“We have had many reports of people who were robbed, sexually abused, drugged or even killed. We know sometimes people try and cut the corners because they don’t have money. It must be emphasised that hitch-hiking is not safe for both hitch-hikers and motorists,” Shongwe said.
He urged travellers to use available public transport “and avoid placing their lives in harm’s way”.
Shongwe was reacting to an incident reported by the SAPS in Mpumalanga, where a hitch-hiker shot dead two alleged male robbers.
The two deceased were shot while trying to rob the man that had asked for a lift on the N4 toll road in Mbombela on Thursday.
It is believed that the hitch-hiker drew his firearm when one of the men was trying to rob him, using a knife. The alleged robbers were travelling in a Volkswagen Polo hatchback which was reportedly travelling from Mbombela to Malelane.
Shongwe has called on police to follow all leads to ascertain if the deceased and the vehicle cannot be linked to similar crimes around Mbombela.
He called on community members who may have information on this and other cases, to assist the police in investigations.