Riddle of the 'stolen' car
A SOWETO woman has been left baffled and questioning why a vehicle, a Mazda 323, she bought legitimately and registered it through the Johannesburg metro police department in her name was impounded in Lenasia.
A follow up to unravel the puzzle reveals that at some stage between 1998 and 1999 police seemed to have failed to follow due process. But now police say they are investigating the car's ownership and cannot release it.
Meanwhile, an insurance company says the vehicle is theirs and should therefore be returned to them.
The vehicle's licence disc has been renewed at least 12 times since 1999 and has even changed ownership with no problem.
The vehicle was apparently stolen in Witbank in 1998 and landed in the hands of a Pretoria man.
The vehicle was stolen again, from the Pretoria man who appears on the vehicle's ownership record.
It seems it was then used in a heist.
Police recovered the vehicle. It is alleged police auctioned the vehicle after the Pretoria man rejected it (after it was used in a heist).
Gauteng police spokeswoman Captain Pinky Tsinyane said police were still investigating how the vehicle had changed hands in the past.
In any case, the vehicle somehow landed with a car dealership, which also appears on the vehicles ownership history, and was sold in 1999 to an elderly woman who drove it for 12 years without a problem.
Sibongile Khanyi-Mahori bought the vehicle late last year. She runs a small catering business and needs the car to run errands.
"I bought the car from this woman and later changed it into my name and renewed its licence with no problem," she said.
"In March, police stopped the vehicle while my son was driving it. They said they wanted to cross reference its details with the central database in Pretoria. It was confiscated."
Santam spokesman Michael Brink said: "Our salvage department became aware of this vehicle when our forensics department made an inquiry on a false registration number which they could not trace.
"The SAPS notified our salvage department on a possible recovery of a vehicle, which indicated that it was the same vehicle as that on our first inquiry.
"The original owner (who insured the car) was contacted by ourselves and identified the vehicle.
"We can confirm that this vehicle had its identification numbers changed. The SAPS have to establish ownership of the vehicle through their own process," said Brink.
Tsinyane said: "When the vehicle was seized, it was identified as stolen.
"Thorough investigation was conducted and the outcome pointed out that the vehicle belongs to Santam as the insurer since they paid out to the original owner after the vehicle was reported stolen.
"However, police are still investigating how the vehicle was stolen, who stole it and how it was sold to Khanyi-Mahori," said Tsinyane.