149 incidents, 3 deaths in highway spikes scourge
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Pretoria - At least 149 motorists have fallen victim to the growing scourge of car spiking on the N4 route in the past three years.
Of the victims reported, three were killed in accidents caused by spikes placed on the road by criminals.
One of the victims was 7-year-old Wandile Banyni, who died when the vehicle she was travelling in with 36-year-old Leah Kwasha ran over spikes on the highway and overturned. Kwasha also died.
As a result of the accident, the police in Pretoria North recorded a case of culpable homicide.
Another fatality linked to spikes placed along the road was reported three years ago, and involved 27-year-old Renald Lethaka.
He also drove over spikes and died in the ensuing accident, and a case of culpable homicide was opened at the Pretoria North police station.
These details were revealed by the MEC for Community Safety, Faith Mazibuko, in response to questions posed in the provincial legislature by DA MPL Michael Shackleton.
Shackleton wanted to know the number of motorists affected by spiking in the past three years, and whether any suspects had been apprehended.
Furthermore, he was interested in finding out whether the SAPS had been able to secure any convictions.
Mazibuko disclosed that at least 21 motorists had fallen victim to car spiking on the N4 highway in 2018/2019.
The highest number of motorists affected by the scourge was 75, with the incidents taking place during the 2019/2020 financial year. During the past financial year, 2020/2021, the police recorded 45 cases.
Although this type of crime has spread across the province, at least eight cases were reported on the N4 highway from April 1 to May 5 this year.
Asked how the SAPS and other law enforcement agencies were dealing with spiking, Mazibuko said: “An operational plan was developed and implemented to deploy vehicles from the flying squad and highway patrol on the N4, R104 and R513 from 6pm to 6am daily to increase visibility.”
She added that frequent patrols were conducted by the National Intervention Unit Crime Intelligence, and informers had been tasked to gather intelligence. There were also media alerts in local newspapers and radio.
Mazibuko said her department had written a letter to the director-general of the Department of Transport and head of department: Roads and Transport, to ask both departments to consider installing lights on the affected national and provincial roads.
She said: “Criminals put spikes on the road after dark with the intention of robbing the victims when they stop to change their tyres.”
According to Mazibuko, the crimes perpetrated included robberies, culpable homicide, sexual assault, armed robbery, malicious damage to property and attempted murder.
She revealed that only six people had to date been arrested in connection with the crimes, and none had been convicted.
Shackleton said Gauteng motorists’ lives were in danger, and expressed concern about the police’s ability to ensure safety of people driving at night. “No convictions have resulted from the three culpable homicide cases reported at Pretoria North police station. As criminals continue to trap innocent motorists with their hazardous tactics, the families of these victims still wait for justice,” he said.
He added that the DA would demand Mazibuko declare the Gauteng traffic police an essential service to ensure 24-hour monitoring of the roads.
In the latest car spiking incident on Friday, a suspect was gunned down by police after they caught criminals robbing occupants of a minibus on the N1 near the Stormvoel Road off-ramp.