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Insurers cease coverage of copper, catalytic converters and cobalt as hijackings increase

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The steep rise in truck hijackings across the country, borne out by second-quarter crime statistics, has led to at least one insurer ceasing coverage for goods in transit like Copper, Cobalt and Catalytic Converters.

According to a notification to clients, the insurer said that although it had “selectively insured both Copper and Cobalt products, the current levels of crime, targeted theft and hijacking, and looting from accident sites had led to a unanimous decision to no longer underwrite these commodities.

It also included Catalytic Converters, used extensively in the motor industry, as another of these unacceptably high exposure commodities.

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The insurer said cover for these commodities will cease on 1 December 2022.

At least one logistics company in Gqeberha, which operates hundreds of trucks in its fleet, has been hard-hit by hijackings and had to find alternative cover at much higher monthly premiums.

“We have to pay huge amounts to escort high-risk vehicles. People are not aware of how big the problem is,” said the industry source.

The cost of an armed escort is in the region of R250 000 per month per unit.

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Read also: Driver arrested as dashcam reveals he faked his own hijacking

Following a recent attack on an escort vehicle on the R75 between Gqeberha and Kariega, which led to the hijacking of a truck with catalytic converters, the number of escort vehicles per truck had to be increased at a higher cost.

The source pointed out that while catalytic converters are being targeted, other goods in transit, like frozen chickens and alcohol, are also on the radar of criminal gangs.

According to the Second Quarter crime statistics released on the 23rd of November by Police Minister Bheki Cele, truck hijackings over the three-month period under review increased by 36.8%.

In the Eastern Cape, there was a 20% rise in truck hijackings, with 42 cases recorded in three months compared to 35 cases during the same period last financial year.

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One broker told Algoa FM News that while truck hijackings were a national problem, they have seen “higher volumes” on certain products in Gqeberha in particular.

He said there has been an increase in incidents over the past two to three years. “Insurers are either underwriting the losses and applying higher premiums and excesses, or they are simply not covering certain goods.”

The broker admitted that it was a nightmare for clients who could not get cover for their products as insurers had got to the point where they were simply refusing to do so.

Between May and July, police recovered stolen catalytic converters worth an estimated R47 million in Greenbushes, Markman and Kariega.

The Nelson Mandela Bay Business Chamber expresses concern

The Chamber said it was extremely concerned at the alarming increase in general crime across the Metro.

“These range from truck hijackings to the vandalism of infrastructure-related crime such as cable theft, fibre installation robberies and theft of sub-station and pump station infrastructure,” said Chamber CEO Denise van Huysteen.

Meanwhile, eight people were due to appear in court in East London on Monday 28 November following their arrest for hijacking a truck carrying groceries worth R1.3 million.

Police spokesperson, Colonel Priscilla Naidu, said members of a multi-disciplinary SAPS task team made the arrests.

She said the truck and its contents were recovered in Wells Estate in Gqeberha.

Colonel Naidu added that earlier last week, the NMB Hijacking Task Team recovered 283 tyres at a property in Motherwell after a truck was hijacked at gunpoint in Struandale.

On the 23rd of November, police recovered a hijacked truck carrying groceries valued at over R2 million.

No arrests were made in that matter.

“Despite the increase in truck hijackings in the Eastern Cape, police have stepped up their efforts in clamping down on these syndicates,” said Colonel Naidu. Algoa FM

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