NELSPRUIT – The Provincial Commissioner of the SAPS in Mpumalanga, Lieutenant General Semakaleng Daphney Manamela has warned motorists to be vigilant on the roads, particularly on either side of N4 Road at Hectorspruit, near Impala Siding and Komatipoort in Nkomazi. The warning by the General is due to incidents of tyre spikes that were reported recently at the said area. Meanwhile police at Komatipoort arrested a 20-year-old male suspect in the evening of yesterday, Wednesday 13 April 2022, suspected to be linked to the reported incidents however, police investigation continues in this regard.
As days went by, leading to the Easter period, there were reports of suspects who targeted motorists who were either crossed the Lebombo Border Gate or who were travelling from the Lebombo Border Gate, where they would place spikes at strategic areas knowing that their victims would be vulnerable.
These incidents normally occur late in the evening or in the early hours of the morning. Once motorists drive over these objects, their tyres get punctured or their vehicles damaged in the process, forcing them to stop and inspect their vehicles. While doing so, the armed suspects then violently approach and rob them of their valuables, such as cash, cellphones and other personal items.
In the recent sad incident, a taxi driver was hacked to death allegedly by a gang of about 20 armed suspects who reportedly put spikes on the road he was travelling on. This incident took place on Monday, 11 April 2022, around 23h00, during the time when he was ferrying commuters from South Africa to Mozambique. The attack occurred between Hectorspruit and the Coopersdal junction. After the vehicle stopped, occupants were robbed. The taxi driver was unfortunately certified dead after being found a few metres from the minibus he was driving.
Police at Komatipoort were notified about the incident and a case with a count of murder and of armed robbery was opened. The members immediately began with their probe in a quest to hunt down the suspects who target innocent motorists. Police operationalized information and proceeded to a certain tavern in Mjajane (Hectorspruit) around 23h00 yesterday, 13 April 2022 where they arrested the said suspect.
During his arrest, police found an unlicensed firearm with ammunition in his possession. He was charged accordingly and a preliminary probe has also revealed that the man is originally from the country of Mozambique and was in South Africa illegally hence a charge of contravention of the Immigration Act was added against him. Police cannot rule out the possibility of linking him to the robbery incidents alluded to as the investigation continues and some items were recovered.
Thus far, following the man’s arrest, the probe by police has led to the discovery of various places where suspects are believed to have hidden suspected robbed items. In those places, the astute members managed to find more items, including cell phones, cash (both Mozambican and South African notes) as well as other dangerous weapons. All the evidence suggests a syndicate that preys on travellers and police are hopeful that more arrests will be made soon.
The suspect is due to appear before the Komatipoort Magistrate’s Court on Tuesday, 19 April 2022 facing the said charges. Meanwhile the men and women in blue are still pursuing the remaining suspects and members of the public are urged to alert police on their whereabouts by calling the Crime Stop at 08600 10111 or send information via MySAPS APP. All received information will be treated as confidential and callers may opt to remain anonymous.
The Provincial Commissioner of the SAPS in Mpumalanga, Lieutenant General Semakaleng Daphney Manamela further praised members for their swift response that lead to the arrest of the suspect and recovery of a firearm with ammunition as well as suspected stolen property. “We have never rested since it was brought to our attention that there were suspects who targeted motorists, using spikes. We have now made a major breakthrough with this arrest and we are adamant that more will be revealed regarding the reported robberies” commented the General.