Criminals throwing stones and rocks off bridges in the Verulam area of KwaZulu-Natal are showing a resurgence, but this time the motive seems to be mischief, not robbery.
Reaction Unit South Africa (Rusa) confirmed that several vehicles had been attacked since last week, including an ambulance responding to a medical emergency near King Shaka International Airport.
Two people were assaulted and arrested this weekend by members of the public for dropping rocks on motorists.
Rusa media liaison officer Prem Balram said he feared the rock and boulder throwing crime trend was making a comeback.
The trend appeared to reach a peak in 2018, with the main modus operandi being to rob stunned and bleeding victims.
“Every time they threw stones, it was for the purpose of robbing. They would come down, rob the victims and flee,” Balram said.
However, this past weekend Balram said the modus operandi now appeared to be to cause malicious damage to vehicles.
He said the suspects were not found in possession of stolen goods.
“It’s just adults being malicious. But it’s almost worse with no motive. That’s what’s so disturbing.”
Balram warned that although large rocks and boulders are typically used in these attacks and even a pebble can cause serious damage to a car travelling up to 120km/h.
He said Rusa had pinpointed the boulder throwing hot spot zones to be on bridges along the N2, M4 and R102.
On Sunday, Rusa confirmed two stone throwers had been apprehended by motorists after boulders were dropped on the orad and vehicles damaged in Verulam.
When Rusa arrived at the scene, the suspects had been assaulted and were being held by passing motorists.
The suspects are alleged to have damaged at least three vehicles before motorists intervened.
Those on the scene said the suspects fled to a nearby informal settlement pursued by a small group of men.
A third suspect is still at large.
Balram emphasised the importance of curbing the latest resurgence of rock throwing before it becomes as commonplace as it was back in 2018. This is especially so as the Easter weekend approaches.
He provided motorists and travelers with the following tips:
- Look at overhead bridges and be prepared to travel into oncoming traffic to avoid a stone, rock or boulder.
- Report any suspicious behaviour to law enforcement. Provide as accurate a description as possible, as well as the area.
- Circulate warnings to friends, family and social media.
“This can be avoided if we know the signs,” Balram said.