MALALANE – A simple traffic transgression and the vigilance of local police led to officers recovering a stolen vehicle early on Sunday morning.
Sgt Bheki Nkosi of Malelane SAPS explained that officers were stationed at the edge of town, towards Mbombela around 04:00 when they spotted a Ford Ranger skipping a red traffic light.
Something about this drew their attention and they followed, noting that the vehicle skipped all the red traffic lights in town. When the officers switched on their blue lights to urge the driver to pull over, he sped up instead and they gave chase.
The driver, whom they suspect was heading to Mozambique, then decided to turn onto the roundabout of the R570 Jeppes Reef Road.
They continued to chase him and managed to catch the suspect when he lost control of the vehicle near One Tree Hill at the Tonga/KaMhlushwa turn-off. The bakkie landed in a ditch next to the road and police took the driver into custody.
The vehicle was damaged. It had two flat tyres and scratches along the side where it had collided with a fence. It had to be towed to the police station.
Upon further investigation, the vehicle had false number plates and had been reported stolen from Heidelberg the previous evening.
The driver appeared in the Malelane Periodical Court on Monday on a charge of possession of a stolen vehicle and was denied bail. He was scheduled to appear in court on Wednesday.
Nkosi said that police were keeping a close eye on vehicles like Toyota three-litre bakkies and Ford Rangers as they are often targeted by thieves and smugglers. Owners are urged to keep their vehicles securely locked and out of the public eye, if possible, when parked at home.
The sergeant also urged new and used vehicle dealerships to carefully verify all documentation of prospective buyers.
Police have been notified that fraud cases in this industry have been on the rise. Fraudsters set up bank accounts and fake documentation and once the vehicle has been handed over, the dealer finds that the account is empty and the details provided are false.
No local cases have been reported but Nkosi urged dealerships, especially second-hand ones, to double-check whether all documentation received is authentic just in case fraudsters decide to move in on Nkomazi.