While Limpopo police statistics indicate a 5.1% decrease in vehicle hijackings in the province, residents in communities along the Beitbridge border remain concerned about the ongoing theft and hijacking of their vehicles.
Despite the overall decline, residents like Grace Shivambu, a successful cattle and pepper farmer from Bale near Musina, have fallen victim to these crimes. Last week, she was attacked by hijackers who fled with her brand-new pick-up truck, which she used to transport her products to markets.
The incident occurred on the R524 road in Niani, where Shivambu had stopped to pick up part-time labourers for her farm. Three armed men she had given a ride to, pepper-sprayed her and pinned her down.
Shivambu recounted the harrowing experience, stating, “I gave them a ride to a farmer because I needed their labour, but as soon as they stepped into the car, they pepper-sprayed my eyes, harassed me, and beat me up with sticks and pangas. They left me on the ground and drove away with my vehicle.”
A search by police and a tracking company led them to the banks of the Limpopo River, but Shivambu’s pick-up truck was nowhere to be found. This incident has highlighted the concerns of residents who fear that their vehicles are being stolen and smuggled into neighbouring Zimbabwe and Mozambique.
Shadrack Phuravhathu, another resident, expressed frustration over the persistent theft of vehicles and the perceived inaction of authorities.
He said, “We don’t know what to do because they keep on stealing our vehicles, and we are afraid. We thought the government would help us. Our cars are taken to Zimbabwe. We don’t know what to do because the soldiers and police are there.”
Limpopo Police Commissioner Lieutenant-General Thandi Hadebe acknowledged the concerns raised by residents and the worrying trend of stolen vehicles being smuggled into neighbouring countries. However, she emphasised that police officials intercept hijackers regularly.
Hadebe says, “At the border, we have an army that is there. We also have our rural safety communities with whom we work hand-in-hand. We have also deployed a team that we call an intervention team. It focusses on that and also the trafficking of illicit goods. Yes, it is a problem because most of the vehicles that we recover, 90 percent of them, are hijacked or stolen in Gauteng. It is a worrying factor as to where the cars stolen in this province are going to because the ones we are intercepting are from Gauteng, the majority of them.”
Hadebe urged motorists to exercise caution and refrain from picking up hitchhikers to further protect themselves from such incidents.
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