The Anti-Vehicle Trafficking Unit in Umkhanyakude, in KwaZulu-Natal, says car theft has dropped significantly under level 3 lockdown.
The unit’s chairperson Joseph Ngubane is attributing the good news to roadblocks and increased police visibility.
The cars are normally stolen in various parts of South Africa and taken to Mozambique via Jozini.
Last year, tired of hijackings, residents in the district took the streets, calling for more action to end hijackings in the area.
They also beat up men believed to be part of a car syndicate, who gave up the names of law enforcement officers accused of involvement in the trafficking of cars.
“It was really bad before the lockdown but now things are much better. The hijackers are people who live among us and are now cautious because the police are all over. Roadblocks all over the country are also helpful because at the borders – they have been passing through despite patrols,” Ngubane says.
He hopes for more roadblocks along the border posts in Mkhanyakude.
“Although we understand that budgetary constrains could prevent the deployment of more police officers – we believe the roadblocks will really keep the crime levels down.”
He has also lamented the passing of KwaZulu-Natal Transport and Community Safety and Liaison MEC, Bheki Ntuli.
Ngubane says Ntuli was committed to crime fighting and at the time of his passing – they were planning a meeting to find lasting solutions to vehicle trafficking.
Ntuli died of COVID-19 related complications recently and was laid to rest on Thursday.
The truck driver who allegedly caused the multiple vehicle crash that claimed the lives of nine people in Jozini in June has been denied bail in the Ubombo Magistrate’s Court.
Sipho Ntuli is due to return back to court on January 21.
The case has been moved to the Ingwavuma Regional Court, where a pre-trial conference will be held when the case resumes in the next year.
Ntuli was suspected of being drunk at the time of the accident. According to preliminary investigations, Ntuli lost control of his vehicle and crashed into five vehicles which included two buses, one mini-bus taxi, one bakkie and a Toyota Condor.
He is facing a charge of driving under the influence of alcohol and nine counts of culpable homicide.
At least 30 people were injured in the accident.
KwaZulu-Natal MEC for Transport, Community Safety and Liaison, Bheki Ntuli, has welcomed the court’s decision to remand Ntuli in custody.
“We applaud the Magistrate’s decision to deny bail for the accused as we believe that releasing the accused on bail would not have been in the interest of justice. The Court’s ruling will also send out a strong message to motorists who drive under the influence of alcohol in our province especially during the festive season and we believe such drivers should be harshly punished for their reckless behaviour,” he says.
He has also commended the Jozini Police Station investigators for working “tirelessly to build a water-tight case.”
MEC Ntuli says KwaZulu-Natal will be stepping up police visibility and law enforcement operations, as part of its festive season safety plan and provincial crime-fighting intervention programme titled Operation Vala, which will be launched by Premier Sihle Zikalala on Friday.
Below is an interview MEC Ntuli had with Maputaland FM soon after the loss of lives in Jozini.
The KwaZulu-Natal government says it will work with local municipalities to assist the families of Wednesday’s crash that claimed 16 lives with funeral arrangements and psychosocial services.
The collision took place on the R66 between Melmoth and Ulundi. Authorities say a minibus taxi and a truck collided head-on; the taxi caught alight and burned out, leaving 16 people dead, including a stillborn.
They say three victims from the taxi were burnt beyond recognition and DNA testing will have to be conducted to identify them.
Transport Minister Fikile Mbalula has sent his condolences to friends and families of those who have lost their loved ones in the accident.
“Collectively, as government, the private sector and civil society, we must never tire, until the scourge of rampant road fatalities is eradicated. One life lost is one life too many but death on this scale is an absolute tragedy. I am particularly saddened by the passing of an innocent infant, my heart goes out to the family. We send condolences to the bereaved and vow to work even harder to improve legislation, road infrastructure, visibility of law enforcement and road-user education, in order to put an end to the bloodshed,” he says.
KwaZulu-Natal MEC for Transport, Community Safety and Liaison Bheki Ntuli has called on motorists to be extra cautious on the roads. MEC Ntuli visited the accident scene to inspect the impact of the accident.
“This accident is one of the most gruesome accidents I have ever experienced because 16 people perished, including a pregnant woman who delivered a stillborn infant on the scene. It pains me that families had to lose their loved ones especially during October Transport Month, as we are busy conducting service delivery activities which includes launching high-impact infrastructure projects in various parts of the province that are key in unlocking economic opportunities,” MEC Ntuli said.
Ntuli also conveyed his condolences to the families of the deceased and wished the five survivors in hospital a speedy recovery. He has reassured the bereaved families that the government will work tirelessly to process the DNA testing of the three victims so that all families can find closure and bury their loved ones.
The South African Police Service and the Road Traffic Management Corporation (RTMC) are investigating the cause of the crash.