Western Cape police believe they have thwarted a syndicate in that province, which was responsible for the hijacking of Uber and metered taxis.
A series of arrests have since been made, in connection with the crimes, this week.
There is still no clarity on just how long this syndicate has been operating, but there has certainly been a dramatic escalation in the number of metered taxi hijackings since October 2017.
“The bulk of the incidents were reported in the Blue Downs cluster of police stations, namely Kuils River, Kleinvlei, and Mfuleni. Incidents also occurred in the Brackenfell police precinct, in Stellenbosch, Macassar and in Somerset West,” read a statement by Western Cape police on Saturday.
So, what was the modus operandi of this syndicate and how did it manage to operate for so long?
“The suspects would order taxis under false pretences and when the driver arrived they would ask to be driven to a certain point,” continued the police statement.
“On their way there, one of the suspects, who usually sat in the front of the vehicle with the driver, would point a gun at the driver and the one at the back would choke the victim at the same time. Thereafter they would typically rob the driver of his cell phones and other valuables, pull him out of the vehicle and drive away with the vehicle.
“In some incidents the suspects ordered the driver to get into the boot of the car and, after robbing the victim, they would abandon the car and disappear with the victim’s belongings.”
“In all the incidents the suspects were described as consisting of one, two or three men. All 17 cases are linked to incidents which took place during the months October, November and December 2017.”
Three suspects have been arrested this month, all of them in their twenties. They are expected to make their first appearances in the Blue Downs Magistrate’s Court on Monday.