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Tuesday, July 5, 2022

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A spike in `blue-light’ crimes grip Gauteng

A fake police vehicle.

A fake police vehicle.

Published Jun 5, 2022

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Johannesburg - Following incidents along some of the most used routes in the Randburg, Bryanston and Fourways areas, numerous cases of kidnappings and robberies by criminals acting as police, have been reported to the police

A victim who spoke on condition of anonymity said he fell prey to the gang at the end of May while driving towards Paulshoff from Bryanston.

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"I was using my GPS trying to make my way to the N1 freeway to head to Pretoria. It took me through some roads inside Bryanston when I got stopped by what I thought were police officers in a white VW vehicle," said the victim.

"As I pulled over, two individuals wearing police uniforms approached my vehicle. One came to the driver's door while the other went to check the licence disc. As I opened my window to hand over my driver's licence, the man pulled out a gun and demanded I unlock my car. I did, and the second person got inside," he added.

What followed he described as the scariest few hours of his life. The man said he offered the person sitting in the passenger seat pointing a gun at him the car keys and electronics in the car, but he was not interested.

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"He said they did not want the car. They just wanted money. They made me drive around to various places to withdraw money, and we ended up in the middle of nowhere, somewhere near Fourways. They then made me open my banking app, and they made transfers. They took all my money. Once done, they said if I followed them, they would shoot me," he said.

Andile Peter from Roodepoort also had a hair-raising experience at the hands of criminals on May 20. He said he was parked outside his partner's home in Diepkloof when an unmarked white Toyota Etios approached him at high speed.

He said he tried to drive off in reverse as soon as he realised what would happen but was unsuccessful. Three men climbed out of the Toyota armed and knocked on his car window. They ordered him out of the driver's seat to the back, where he sat with one of the three assailants after emptying his pockets.

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The men pointed their firearms at Peter as two went through his two phones, with the third assailant driving. While Peter was stuck in his car with the men, the Toyota Etios was driving in front of them.

"The man sitting with me at the back pointed his gun to my kidney area. I had a beanie on, and they rolled it over my eyes. We drove for 2km, and the car stopped. I had no cash, but I had transferred R1 000 to myself earlier and used about R700. They asked me why I used that R 700 and where was the rest of the money," said Peter.

Upon realising that Peter had no money on him, the men stopped under a bridge on the N1 and forced him into the car's boot. He said he could hear them discussing what to do with him. As the men were still hatching their plan, Peter outsmarted them.

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"I crawled out of the boot to the driver's side of the car while they talked and drove off. One of the men drew his pistol and started shooting. I'm not sure which direction he was shooting, but I heard two shots as I drove away," he said.

The police said they were aware that there are hijackers who commit crimes while posing as police officers. A week ago, police arrested five suspects connected to similar crimes. The suspects had in their possession police uniforms, unlicensed firearms and ammunition.

A team consisting of the SAPS Tactical Response Team, Gauteng Crime Intelligence, West Rand Flying Squad, Tracker Connect, Vision Tactical, Guardmax Security, and BCI Security apprehended the suspects aged between 26 and 36.

Police vests used by some of the fake officers. Picture: Bongiwe Mchunu

"We had several incidents in Gauteng where criminals posed as police officers and used blue lights to stop the victims. Most of these incidents happen on the highways. We have suspects that we arrested, and cases are in court. We also have some of the suspects that are still at large. We have since intensified our highway patrol unit to curb this," said Lieutenant Colonel Mavela Masondo.

Police Minister Bheki Cele on Friday, during the release of the crime stats, said hijacking crimes had increased by 19.7% from January 2021 to March 2022, with 5 151 carjackings. The majority of these car hijackings occurred in the Gauteng province.

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