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Despite regular police successes in arresting the perpetrators of these crimes, new data shows truck hijackings in South Africa rose 24.6% to 354 incidents in the quarter ended 31 March 2021.

The South African Police Service’s (SAPS) newly-release crime statistics show a year-on-year rise of 70 attacks on trucks across the country compared to the opening three months of 2020.

SAPS’ last annual report showed a slower 1.7% growth in truck hijackings over the 12 months from April 2019-March 2020, giving some hope that threats to trucks and their drivers were starting to plateau. The was fuelled further when data for the first three months of this current SAPS reporting year (April-June 2020) saw hijackings fall by 30% to 198 crimes.

Since then, however, the numbers of recorded attacks have risen steeply:

  • July-September 2020 – 411 hijackings, up 31.7% year-over-year
  • October-December 2020 – 436 attacks, a rise of 34.2%
  • And now, the 24.6% growth reported in January-March 2021

The top three provinces suffering these most recent attacks were Gauteng with 144 truck hijackings, Eastern Cape with 40, and Mpumalanga with 35. Double-digit incidents were also recorded in Western Cape (19), Free State (18) and KwaZulu-Natal (15).

Hijackings of cash-in-transit vehicles had been showing a similar trend, reducing 10.4% in the last annual report and 50% in the first three months of the latest reporting year, but the following two quarters, CIT attacks soared 60% to 64 and 66.7% to 65. New police statistics, however, show this type of crime falling to 42 in the three months to 31 March of this year, a 10.6% decline.

In one of their latest successes targeting hijackers, law enforcement agencies in Midrand responded to information that suspects were planning to rob a truck carrying a shipment of phones worth over €175,000. Intelligence suggested the gang had gathered in a safe house in the area. On arrivals at the premises, police became involved in a shoot-out in which five suspects were fatally wounded and six others needed hospital treatment.

At the property, police recovered automatic weapons and ammunition, stolen cars and three GPS signal jammers.

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