Municipal road grader hijacked and driven away on truck
A municipal road grader in Limpopo has been hijacked after the driver was kidnapped at gunpoint, allegedly by unknown men.
The driver of the Lepelle-Nkumpi municipality's two-year-old grader was on duty two weeks ago when two vehicles allegedly blocked his way and unknown men pulled out firearms, ordering him to stop.
Police spokesperson Brig Motlafela Mojapelo said the complainant aged 40, who is a driver at the municipality, was on the R518 and in front of him was a white Nissan Amarok.
"The driver was intending to turn to Jackie land direction but was overtaken by a charcoal Toyota hilux double cab that stopped in front of the grader. Then an African male all of a sudden jumped from the Amarok, approaching the complainant," he said.
Mojapelo said the suspect was in possession of a firearm in his hand and got into the grader, ordering the municipal employee to drive.
"Suddenly another suspect came in, also wielding a firearm in the hand, and got into the grader and pushed the driver from the seat. The suspect then reportedly drove the grader towards Matome village,"he said.
Mojapelo said the suspects drove to bushes where they tied the driver under a marula tree.
"Then came a truck and loaded the grader. They thereafter drove away with the grader," he said.
The Lepelle-Nkumpi municipality spokesperson had not responded to Sowetan's enquiries by the time of going to print.
Two municipal officials confirmed that the R3m road grader bought two years ago has not been found and said that two officials were served with suspension letters.
According to an official who wished to remain anonymous, the two officials have served with letters of suspension over the hijacking of the grader because it was discovered it didn't have a tracking device.
"It is known that all municipal vehicles, trucks and graders should have tracking devices installed. A technical supervisor and fleet officer are the two officials which the municipal manager had written to demanding to know why they should not be suspended," he said.
The official said he suspected an inside job because the incident appeared to be premeditated.
"How did the suspect know that grader will be out on duty, and to a point where they arrange a large truck to load and vanish just like that? I think the police should investigate our officials and they will find criminals amongst ourselves," he said.
Another official said that in 2012, two trucks belonging to the municipality, which invested R150m into the collapsed VBS Mutual Bank, were stolen and one was later found in Gauteng.
"We are worried that the municipality has now became a target for criminals. I'm aware that the two officials were served with letters but it doesn't have to stop there as to seek answers," he said.
The official said the rainy season is around the corner and many villages will be in need of the services of a grader.
Mojapelo said police in Lebowakgomo are investigating a case of truck hijacking that happened on June 10.
He said the suspects are unknown at this stage and were allegedly speaking Tswana.
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