The Gauteng Traffic Police are hunting for a group of road spike robbers who fled when a shout-out ensued, killing one suspect.
“We cannot allow criminals to jeopardise the lives of citizens under our watch. Criminals have declared war on us and citizens,” Gauteng Traffic Police spokesperson Sello Maremane said.
The gang the police are hunting used road spikes to burst the tyres of a minibus on Friday, forcing it to a stop next to the Stormvoël off-ramp.
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Gauteng Traffic Police and Special Law Enforcement Unit (SLEU) officers caught them in the act. Maremane said the criminals took the passengers hostage and robbed them of three cellphones and two bags.
“While the criminals were busy, the SLEU members intervened and attempted to arrest the robbers. They started shooting at the officers without uttering any word and the officers returned fire,” Maremane said.
One robber was shot dead.
“The other suspects are still at large and law enforcement officials are hunting them down,” Maremane said.
Michael Shackleton, Gauteng Democratic Alliance shadow MEC for community safety, said of a separate incident in Pretoria, the three innocent lives lost at the hands of spike gangs were a clear indication motorists’ lives were in danger.
He was concerned about the data revealed by the Gauteng MEC for community safety, Faith Mazibuko, in a written reply to his questions tabled in the Provincial Legislature.
“To date, 149 cases have been opened with regards to spike placement on the highway in the past three years,” Shackleton said. Of these, only six arrests have been made and no convictions.
“No convictions have resulted from the three culpable homicide cases. As criminals continue to trap innocent motorists, the families of these victims continue to wait for justice,” he said.
The increased rate of crime as revealed in the crime statistics for the fourth quarter for the 2020-21 financial year, showed why motorists do not feel safe, he claimed.
“Car hijacking has increased from 2 290 cases in the 2019-20 financial year to 2 328cases this year.”
The safety of road users is at great risk with the absence of the Gauteng Traffic Police monitoring the highways during the night, he said.
The DA has demanded that Mazibuko declare the Gauteng Traffic Police an essential service to ensure 24-hour monitoring of Gauteng roads.
“Driving at night is already risky due to no natural light. Motorists don’t need the added anxiety of possible spikes that could lead to them being victims of theft, hijackings, or worse,” Shackleton said.