Following reports of trucks being hijacked and then used to block roads in the past week, the National Prosecution Authority (NPA) has instructed the police to conduct full investigations despite truck owners’ refusals to open cases.
Durban Cluster Chief Public Prosecutor Advocate G Naidoo wrote to station commanders after receiving reports that some trucks were hijacked and subsequently recovered a few hours after and the owners refused to register truck hijacking cases.
He further alleges that the owners were allowed to take back their trucks from the scenes without the relevant forensic investigation being undertaken.
Naidoo states that owners cannot legally decide to not report a truck hijacking case saying – An owner who has been a victim of theft or robbery of a motor vehicle is required by law to report.
If the motor vehicle is recovered prior to SAPS being informed (for example, it was recovered by a private security company), the theft and recovery of such vehicle must also be reported to SAPS, says Naidoo.
Section 54 of the National Road Traffic Act, 1996:
NATIONAL ROAD TRAFFIC ACT 93 OF 1996
54. Procedure if a motor vehicle is stolen
(1) If a motor vehicle is stolen, the owner of such motor vehicle shall –
(a) report the theft to the South African Police Service, within 24 hours after he or she has become
aware of such theft;
(b) notify the titleholder forthwith of the theft;
Naidoo says that if the police do not follow procedure, it would result in the investigation being hindered or prevented. In other words, the administration of justice can be obstructed.
The forensic investigation is vital. Even though there are no suspects at the time, we are now getting back not only positive hits on fingerprints but on DNA as well. DNA and fingerprint analysis also assist SAPS to identify the perpetrators, and link criminal syndicates – thereby supporting the prosecution of the said offenders.
The nature of the offence affects the safety and security of the community. Vehicle crime perpetrators are organised, sophisticated and violent. Our communities are vulnerable and live in constant fear of attack. Furthermore, theft and robbery are not crimes in
isolation. They are often accompanied by other offences as well, for example, Possession of Unlicenced Firearms, Attempted Murder,
The non-reporting in a policing area presents incorrect statistics, and also distracts SAPS resources and crime threat analysis.
“All members attending scenes are to ensure that cases are opened, the vehicle is seized as an exhibit for investigation, and all
relevant protocols are observed.
If the driver or owner refuses at the time or is not available, the first officer on the scene must report the matter and seize the vehicle as an exhibit – pending the intervention of the Commander,” concluded Naidoo.