Durban - Hijacking has got so bad that the KwaZulu-Natal government is now looking at insuring all its vehicles.
Premier Willies Mchunu’s spokesman, Ndabezinhle Sibiya, on Wednesday told the Daily News that the KZN executive council had mandated the Transport Department to explore the option after being briefed on the latest incidents, with the Health Department being the most recent casualty.
Like many other big government departments, KZN does not insure its fleet of vehicles.
Sibiya said hijacking affected most provincial government departments, but was particularly bad in the north of the province, where stolen vehicles were taken across the Mozambique border.
He said the Transport Department had been given the mandate since it was responsible for the procurement of government vehicles.
“Almost all provincial government departments were victims of car hijacking, especially in the King Cetshwayo District (uThungulu District Municipality) close to the Mozambique border.
“What is disturbing is that the Health Department seems to be targeted the most. This is really a cause for concern, hence the executive council’s request for the department to undertake a study on the possibility of insuring all these vehicles,” said Sibiya.
He said the total number of vehicles hijacked to date, and the exact areas of crime, would be known after the completion of the study.
“The cabinet said this was a priority, so it should not take long to get a report-back from the department. It must be noted that cross-border crime has a role in these hijackings.
“Most of these vehicles are taken across the border to Mozambique, and it becomes difficult to get them back. Some of the vehicles are stripped, distributed across the country if they find a way across the border, to be re-assembled or sold as spare parts,” said Sibiya.
A source in uMzinyathi District, who asked to remain anonymous, said the district was “a haven” for hijackers targeting government vehicles.
“About two months ago three government cars were hijacked in one month. This is scary, especially to the various department employees. A solution to this required all the role-players, including law enforcement agencies and the communities, to have their hands on deck,” said the source.
Last month, Transport MEC Mxolisi Kaunda called for stricter measures to prevent stolen vehicles being moved from the province to Mozambique.
The Daily News reported that Kaunda announced a plan to place concrete blocks along the length of the 80km border with Mozambique in an effort to stem rampant vehicle theft.
Kaunda said the Mozambique-KZN border near Manguzi would be sealed with New Jersey Barriers in an ambitious, R90-million project.
The precast, steel reinforced concrete barriers are typically used along highways to separate traffic or to protect pedestrians or workers during construction.
Kaunda also announced that a police vehicle theft unit, which had been withdrawn, would be reinstated as part of efforts to curb the tide of stolen vehicles across the border.
Kaunda’s spokesman, Kwanele Ncalane, yesterday said his department was treating the executive mandate with urgency. “The MEC submitted a report on cases and trends of hijackings, and most of the cases involve SUVs and 4X4s. We concur that the matter must be treated with urgency.
“At this stage we are working on the plan of how to approach the study. The study will look at cost implications, as government vehicles come in different makes,” said Ncalane, adding that government vehicles have never before been insured.