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Surge in Hijackings and Fake Police Incidents Rattles N3 Highway Users

Published February 28, 2024
4 months ago

The N3 highway through South Africa has become a feared passage for drivers, marked by a disturbing trend of increased hijackings and violent attacks by criminals posing as police officers. This once-routine route has turned into a minefield of potential encounters with danger, casting a pall of anxiety over those who must travel it.


The Heidelberg area has particularly transformed into a criminal hotspot, where the exploits of phony police officers spreading fear are on the rise, despite the genuine police’s best efforts to deter such occurrences. On a grim note, these nefarious activities also entangled Transport Minister Sindisiwe Chikunga and her entourage last November, when they fell victim to one such heinous crime.


Police spokesperson Colonel Dimakatso Nevhuhulwi assured the public of their unwavering commitment to safety with daily patrols, the deployment of flying squads, and concentrated law enforcement on highway ramps. Nevertheless, a grim reality overshadows these assurances, as Dr. Johan Burger, a policing expert at the Institute for Security Studies, points out the daunting challenges facing the South African Police Service (Saps)—a reality of overextended and underfunded operations struggling under the pressures of a growing population.


Survivors of these violent hijackings carry the weight of their experiences long after the fact, as fear and trauma take a resident toll on their psyches. Thabang Molapo’s tale highlights the harrowing nature of these encounters, detailing hours-long captivity and continuous psychological trauma. These stories reinforce the critical state of affairs on the N3, which is not just a narrative about crime statistics but about human lives irreversibly altered.


Terribly, a recent incident echoes these fears, as a Johannesburg doctor traveling from Newcastle was coerced off the N3 by fake police officers, subjected to robbery and stripped of his possessions. Lieutenant-Colonel Mavela Masondo details how this group—of which three donned police uniforms—abused their false authority to exploit and terrorize their victim, reflecting a sophisticated level of criminal planning and execution.


The concern escalates with the recognition that this artery of crime is not selective; business figures have also been among the abducted. Such kidnappings are a stark illustration of the audacity and ruthlessness of the criminal networks that haunt the N3 corridor.


While police initiatives seek to stem this tide with visible patrols and intelligence-driven strategies, there is a concomitant need for comprehensive systemic reform and community vigilance. The current situation stands as a summons to action—not just for law enforcement but also for every traveller to remain ever-vigilant and informed on this crucial yet challenged highway.



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