Police swoop on suspected blue-light hijacking gang

Three people‚ including a husband and wife‚ have been arrested on suspicion that they are part of a blue-light syndicate that impersonated police officers and created fake roadblocks to hijack unsuspecting motorists.

Law enforcement agencies believe the three suspects form part of a syndicate that hijacked 10 cars‚ including a Porsche 911 and Audi RS7‚ in Gauteng and Mpumalanga between August 2015 and May this year.

One of the three‚ Faizel Charloos‚ 39‚ appeared in the Lenasia Magistrate’s Court this week for a bail application.

He has been charged with robbery‚ theft and for being in possession of two firearms.

Charloos’s arrest followed that of his wife‚ Sadiyya‚ and Mozambican national Abeneir Mavhotso‚ who were nabbed in May and appeared in court after Mavhotso was allegedly found spray-painting a hijacked Audi RS7 in Charloos’s yard.

National Prosecuting Authority spokeswoman Phindi Louw-Mjonondwane said during the raid at Charloos’s house‚ police also found R750‚000 in cash‚ a hijacked Ford Ranger bakkie‚ a police radio‚ two firearms and sets of car keys belonging to reportedly hijacked vehicles.

The cars had been reported stolen in Sebokeng‚ Pretoria‚ Diepsloot‚ Emalahleni‚ Brooklyn and Garsfontein‚ among other places.

Louw-Mjonondwane said Charloos’s warrant of arrest was issued on Monday and he handed himself over to the police on the same day.

Sadiyya is out on R100‚000 bail‚ while Mavhotso was denied bail because he is in the country illegally.

Louw-Mjonondwane said all the crimes followed the same modus operandi.

“The owners of the cars would be pulled over by people wearing SAPS or metro police uniform‚ with blue-light vehicles. And when they stopped on the side of the road‚ they would be accosted and have their heads covered with plastic bags. They would then be bundled into their cars and dropped off in secluded areas.”

She said vehicles linked to the sets of car keys found at Charloos’s house were later found parked in the basement of a building in the Johannesburg central business district.

She said police were still investigating if the owner of the building was linked to the crimes.

 “We are not sure whether they [the syndicate] paid a monthly fee to store the vehicles as the police are trying to investigate.”

In an affidavit deposed by his Charloos’s lawyer‚ Charloos described himself as a transport manager who has worked for Mohammed’s Transport for 15 years and said his highest academic qualification was Grade 10‚ which he completed at Nirvana Secondary School in Lenasia.

The father of three said that‚ in addition to his monthly income of R32‚000‚ he also generated between R20‚000 and R30‚000 a month by buying‚ repairing and selling accident-damaged cars. He said he owns a house worth R2-million‚ which contains furniture and household goods worth R350‚000.

Charloos‚ who was applying to be given R10‚000 bail‚ also disclosed that his family had a Mercedes Benz C200 worth R300‚000. He said he had one pending criminal case relating to a charge of corruption.

He said he intended pleading not guilty.

“I vehemently deny that I was involved or complicit in the robbery and/or theft of any motor vehicles and/or the planning of such offences.

“I further wish to state that there is no evidence linking me to any of the alleged robbery or theft of vehicles. I admit that the Audi RS7 was found at my place of residence as well as the Ford Ranger‚” said Charloos.

He claimed to have bought the Audi RS7 from a man named Thokozani Nombula for R650‚000 in May.

He said the Ford Ranger belonged to his employer.

“I was merely driving the vehicle in the performance of my duties as transport manager.”

He denied that the sets of keys were found on his premises.

Charloos also said that the R750‚000 was found at his home because he preferred to keep cash he generated from his business at home. The police radio had been given to him by a deceased friend.

Magistrate S Mati postponed the case to Thursday next week for a bail hearing.

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