Taxi driver with 'no passengers' at roadblock is bust for illegal gun instead

A taxi driver was arrested at a roadblock when the vehicle was found to be transporting a number of bags but no passengers. File photo.
A taxi driver was arrested at a roadblock when the vehicle was found to be transporting a number of bags but no passengers. File photo.
Image: SUNDAY TIMES / ERIC MALEMA

A taxi driver who told police at a roadblock that fearful passengers had abandoned the vehicle, leaving behind their luggage, was arrested when police found an illegal firearm in one of the bags.  

Police minister Bheki Cele, accompanied by Gauteng community safety MEC Faith Mazibuko, provincial police commissioner Lt-Gen Elias Mawela, Tshwane metro police chief Johanna Nkomo, and other law enforcement agencies carried out several roadblocks on Saturday evening in Gauteng.

A total of 97 suspects were arrested for various contraventions of the Covid-19 lockdown regulations.

The arrests were for possession of an illegal firearm, exceeding the permitted loading capacity of vehicles, transporting passengers with no valid permits, selling of liquor, failure to confine to place of residence and possession of drugs.

Targeted areas included Mamelodi East, Eesterust, Nellmapius and Silverton.

During one of the roadblocks, a taxi driver stopped with no passengers at all. The vehicle only contained a number of bags.

Acting police ministry spokesperson Brig Mathapelo Peters said the driver initially claimed they belonged to him.

“On searching the luggage, police recovered an illegal firearm in one of the bags and it is only at this point that the driver confirmed to the police that the luggage actually belonged to a number of unknown passengers whom he had dropped off as he approached the roadblock in an attempt to avoid trouble with the law.”

The driver claimed that the passengers had no permits for travelling.

He was promptly arrested for being in possession of an illegal firearm.

Traffic officials also stopped a taxi carrying 22 passengers — 11 of them children — in Mamelodi, Pretoria, on Saturday.

The taxi allegedly travelled from Marble Hall in Limpopo and had used gravel roads to avoid roadblocks.

In a separate incident, two men were arrested for illegally selling liquor at a tavern which had previously been raided.

“It is for this reason that police must seize the instruments utilised during the commission of crimes and violations. Failure to confiscate instruments such as fridges, crates, and liquor creates an opportunity for a repetition of the same violation,” Cele said.

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