Hijackings force social development department to close KZN operation

14 October 2020 - 12:31
The KwaZulu-Natal social development department has closed an office in Pietermaritzburg after a surge in hijackings of social workers travelling in department vehicles.
The KwaZulu-Natal social development department has closed an office in Pietermaritzburg after a surge in hijackings of social workers travelling in department vehicles.
Image: 123rf/ Sergey Lavrentyev

The KwaZulu-Natal social development department has been forced to shut down one of its Pietermaritzburg offices following a surge in criminal attacks, including hijackings involving social workers.

“Following a surge of hijackings of state vehicles in KwaDambuza, Pietermaritzburg, the department opted to close down its office,” the department said in a statement.

“On Monday, a social worker narrowly escaped death when hijackers accosted him in the area and fired at him before forcefully taking the state vehicle he was driving. The social worker suffered an injury to his arm and was taken to hospital for treatment.

“Another employee of the department, who is also a social worker, was hijacked on Edendale Road while en route to Umkhanyakude district.”

Social development MEC Nonhlanhla Khoza said: “We have been losing a lot of state vehicles, with our employees assaulted and even shot.”

Khoza said the attacks had negatively affected the department's work.

Department employees 'victimised'

She said the department could no longer “continue to risk the lives of its employees”.

“Departmental employees are being victimised by crime across the province. We are lucky we have not lost lives in these incidents. The brutal hijackings of departmental vehicles demoralises our employees.”

Khoza said while cases have been opened with police, “there is little joy in solving these crimes”.

“The syndicate hijacking state vehicles sets us backward in ensuring services reach the people we serve on time,” she said.

“It is imperative to see our communities playing their role in exposing these criminals.

“The hijackers are people known in our communities. We believe they should share information with law enforcement agencies so these criminals can be brought to book.”

Khoza said she would with police management and transport, community safety and liaison MEC Bheki Ntuli for an update on the cases that have been reported.

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