Johannesburg - Two suspects who allegedly target women using public transport, especially taxis, have been identified.
Gauteng police are now offering a reward for any information that may lead to the arrest of the suspects, who are believed to be responsible for the kidnapping, serial rapes and robberies of women minibus taxi commuters across the province.
Since March, several cases have been reported in parts of Soweto, including Meadowlands, Kliptown, Protea Glen and Dobsonville. Cases have also been reported in Booysens, the CBD, Rosebank, Alberton, Germiston, Langlaagte and Honeydew.
Police spokesperson Colonel Lungelo Dlamini said more than 20 cases were under investigation.
The two suspects were identified through CCTV cameras at a Joburg mall (the specific one is known to The Star) after a victim reported what had happened to her.
“Police are appealing to anyone who may be able to identify these suspects to come forward with any information,” Dlamini said.
The suspects' modus operandi is to attack victims after they board a taxi. Victims are threatened with a firearm, then robbed of their belongings and raped in secluded areas while the vehicle is moving.
Dlamini said the provincial police commissioner had established a team of detectives from the Family Violence, Child Protection and Sexual Offences Unit to investigate the cases, some of which date back to March last year.
“In some of the cases that have been reported recently, the minibus taxi would have a passenger, including a woman. Once the victim boarded the taxi, the woman, who might be an accomplice, would then alight before the victim or victims are attacked. Some of the victims are men, who are robbed at gunpoint once they have boarded the taxi.”
Dlamini said four suspects had been arrested so far and their cases were on the court roll at the Kliptown, Joburg and Protea courts.
“A suspect appearing at the Protea Magistrate's Court had been linked to two crimes committed in Jabulani and Dobsonville.
"There are also several leads that are being followed, as some of the suspects are believed to be taxi drivers working for certain taxi associations.”
The Star had previously reported on several incidents where a gang of men in a white Quantum minibus were picking up women in and around Soweto and then robbing and raping them.
The #TaxiRape hashtag started trending in March as more people came forward with their stories.
In one incident, a woman shared her story of how she was raped for several hours on the back seat of a taxi while her 10-year-old son was forced to watch. In another incident, it was alleged that a gang had raped nine women in one day.
In another reported case, an 18-year-old Grade 12 pupil managed to escape from a Quantum taxi gang after being assaulted by three men while travelling from Dobsonville to Florida. The girl jumped out of the moving vehicle and opened a case of assault at Florida police station.
In a separate incident, a taxi hit Lungelo Buthelezi and an altercation ensued between his friend Jeanette Cindi-Mabitsela and the occupants of the taxi. During the altercation, the taxi men allegedly bundled them into their vehicle and drove off to the veld, where they allegedly took turns to rape her. Cindi-Mabitsela and Buthelezi were later pelted with stones and then set alight. Both of them died from their injuries.
Dlamini said police were appealing to anyone with information to contact Crime Stop at 08600 10111.