Police foil hijacking of truck carrying R60m worth of cellphones

A security guard and a suspect shot dead during shoot-out

04 March 2021 - 07:00
Some of the firearms recovered during the arrest.
Some of the firearms recovered during the arrest.
Image: Twitter: @YusufAbramjee

A security guard and an alleged hijacker were shot dead when police confronted a gang that had targeted a truck carrying cellphones with an estimated value of R60m.

The incident, which took place in Kelvin, Johannesburg, resulted in 19 people being arrested and 10 illegal firearms, four stolen or hijacked cars and a jamming device being recovered.

According to Gauteng police spokesperson Brig Mathapelo Peters, members of the highway patrol unit — together with Johannesburg North crime intelligence, the SAPS air wing, and Johannesburg metro police — acted on information that a gang was planning to hijack a truck.

Peters said information led the team to a house on Old Pretoria Road in Kelvin.

“It is reported that members of the [highway patrol unit] were approaching when suspects started firing shots at them. The team retaliated and returned fire,” Peters said.

She said 14 suspects, including two women, were arrested on the spot, while an unconfirmed number of suspects escaped by jumping the walls.

“Other [officers] who were strategically positioned outside the house gave chase, and five more suspects were cornered and arrested at five different scenes close to the initial crime scene,” she said.

A security guard, as well as one suspect, were fatally shot. No police officers were injured.

According to Peters, it was discovered during the on-site investigation that one suspect had snatched a seven-month-old baby to possibly use as a shield during the shoot-out. The child has since been found.

She said preliminary investigations linked the suspects to an incident in January, where police pounced on suspects at a house in Lombardy East, interrupting a suspected plot of aggravated robbery. Two AK-47 rifles with loaded magazines, an R-1 rifle with two loaded magazines, and two loaded pistols were recovered.

Peters said a Hawks investigation was under way as police had reason to believe that the suspects could be behind a spate of business robberies, courier van robberies and cargo truck hijackings.

She said three R-5 assault rifles, two AK-47 assault rifles, one 303 assault rifle, and four pistols were recovered from the six scenes on Wednesday. Four of the eight vehicles seized were positively confirmed as either hijacked or stolen. A jamming device was also seized from the suspects.

Peters said the firearms will be subjected to ballistic testing for possible linkage to other serious and violent crimes.

Gauteng commissioner Lt-Gen Elias Mawela commended the intelligence-driven success. He particularly highlighted the role the highway patrol unit officers played.

“It is heartwarming to observe how since the relaunching and receiving of a fleet of high-powered vehicles from Gauteng provincial government, the HP Unit has hit the ground running, delivering significant successes daily, including the recovery of illegal firearms and patrolling of the freeways across the province,” Mawela said.

The Gauteng highway patrol unit was relaunched recently and Peters said it continued to make inroads in efforts by the SAPS in the province to reduce aggravated robberies, particularly trio crimes that include house and business robberies, car and truck hijackings.

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