Millions lost as 50 state-owned vehicles are hijacked in KZN

A social worker in KwaDambuza in Pietermaritzburg was recently accosted and shot by armed hijackers in what appeared be a spate of hijackings of state-owned vehicles in KwaZulu-Natal.
A social worker in KwaDambuza in Pietermaritzburg was recently accosted and shot by armed hijackers in what appeared be a spate of hijackings of state-owned vehicles in KwaZulu-Natal. 
Image: file

A social worker in KwaDambuza, Pietermaritzburg, was recently accosted and shot by armed hijackers in what appears be part of a spate of hijackings of state-owned vehicles in KwaZulu-Natal.

Another social worker was hijacked on Edendale Road while en route to uMkhanyakude district on Tuesday this week.

This is according to the IFP, which expressed concern at the increased theft of vehicles — mostly from the social development department.

“The KZN government loses millions of rand every year — meant for service delivery for the poor — replacing state vehicles that are being targeted by crime syndicates, in areas such as the uMgungundlovu and Indwedwe.

“A total of 53 state-owned vehicles from the department of social development are yet to be recovered after being hijacked between 2017 and 2020,” said the party's spokesperson for social development,  Les Govender.

He said 21 vehicles were recovered in the same period. Of those, most had been damaged, involved in accidents or had been stripped for parts. Luckily, no lives were lost in the incidents.

 In another incident in February, eight armed robbers allegedly stormed the premises of Ndwedwe local municipality and stole eight department of agriculture vehicles.

The department spent nearly R14m replacing more than 23 vehicles that have allegedly been lost in hijackings and thefts in the past two years, revealed Govender.

“Apart from the financial losses, the IFP is very concerned about the safety and wellbeing of the social workers and emergency response personnel who are required to render essential services within communities across the province,” said Govender.

The party has urged law-enforcement officials to arrest those behind the thefts.

“We urge the department of community safety and liaison to intensify investigations to crack the syndicate targeting government vehicles. Investigations into all these cases must also be extended both internally and externally. This hampers service delivery and should be dealt with harshly,” he added.

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