Escaped convicts are in hijacking syndicate

RESIDENTS of Madadeni township in Newcastle, KwaZulu-Natal, live in fear as criminals terrorise them right under the noses of police.

It is alleged that the gang, including convicts who recently escaped from jail, have formed a hijacking gang.

A fortnight ago the gang hijacked a car belonging to a local police officer.

Members of the gang have been on the run after two daring jailbreaks from Westville and Newcastle prisons.

The gang has allegedly formed a sophisticated network involving police officers and influential people.

Concerned resident Nobelungu Buthelezi said they were now fed up because the criminals terrorise them everyday right under the nose of the police.

"Although police are working hard to deal with crime in the area, it is clear that their efforts are not enough.

"Cars are hijacked in broad daylight and the residents fear for their lives," Buthelezi said.

"We have criminals in our midst walking freely and continue terrorising the community," Buthelezi said.

"It is not only those who escaped from jail but there are others also involved in crime fighting committees."

A police source close to the investigation said they have been trying to net the gang without success.

"We have received a tip-off about the whereabouts of the members of the gang in the township. It is believed that the gang is led by the men who escaped from jail," said the source.

Police spokesperson Thulani Zwane confirmed the incident.

Zwane said police arrested three suspects who hijacked a Silver Grey Nissan Navara at Madadeni.

"The suspects are still in police cells and will appear in court soon."

Zwane urged the community to assist police by ensuring that all suspects are arrested before someone is killed.

Local councillor Nqobile Mbokazi said they were very concerned about the high levels of crime.

"We recently launched street committees and a community policing forum," said Mbokazi.

"But there are allegations that some people are also planted by the criminals."