Car smuggling rings in spotlight

RECOVERED: One of the vehicles that police say was destined for Mozambique after it was stolen in Hoedspruit in Limpopo. The car was recovered by the police's highway patrol unit.
RECOVERED: One of the vehicles that police say was destined for Mozambique after it was stolen in Hoedspruit in Limpopo. The car was recovered by the police's highway patrol unit.

Riot Hlatshwayo

Riot Hlatshwayo

Following a number of criminal incidents where vehicles were smuggled into Mozambique and Swaziland, the Mpumalanga police conducted a special operation to deal with the problem.

During the operation, which started last Wednesday, the police managed to recover at least four suspected stolen vehicles that criminals might have intended to smuggle to either country.

A special parade at the Ingwenyama Lodge in White River launched the operation that proceeded well into the weekend.

Two vehicles, a Mercedes Benz and a BMW, were recovered after high-speed chases along the N4 highway between Nelspruit and Komatipoort on Thursday and Friday nights respectively.

Police said the vehicles had been stolen in Hoedspruit.

The robbers had gained entrance into two houses and stolen the keys while their owners were asleep.

Another vehicle, a Lexus, was recovered at a bridge over the Crocodile River.

But its occupants managed to cross the bridge and disappear when they spotted the police. The car had also been stolen in Hoedspruit.

The fourth vehicle was a Ford Ranger 4x4. Its occupants allegedly opened fire at police, who retaliated and shot at the vehicle several times. But the occupants still managed to escape.

No suspects were arrested in any of the incidents.

Police spokesman Superintendent Abie Khoabane told Sowetan that the operation was also in preparation for the official launch of the Mpumalanga police's highway patrol unit at the Nkomazi Toll Plaza next Thursday.

"We shall be receiving a number of high-performance vehicles that will be used to chase after criminals," he said.

Police and vehicle smugglers exchanged gunfire near the Mahamba Port of Entry early this month when a suspected stolen Ford Laser was recovered.

The suspects abandoned the vehicle and crossed the border into Swaziland where they disappeared.

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