The City of Cape Town and Gauteng Traffic Police have warned of dangerous new tactics that criminals use on freeways in South Africa.
City of Cape Town’s mayoral committee member for safety and security, Alderman JP Smith, recently reported that Metro Police officers remove loads of rubble from major highways every evening.
The rubble includes bricks and blocks of concrete is placed in the road to disable vehicles or get motorists to stop, making them vulnerable to criminals.
“It has become a near-nightly occurrence for Metro Police officers to remove rubble from the N2 in addition to their regular patrols,” Smith said.
Most of the incidents occur between midnight and 04:00, when there is less traffic on the road.
“The success of the ambush is based on motorists not being able to see the obstruction, and therefore day time incidents are rare,” said Smith.
“Despite this, motorists need to be vigilant at all times and not count on daylight as a preventative measure.”
While there are no exact locations for where rubble is placed, Smith said that officers concentrate their efforts between Borcherds Quarry as far as the Symphony Way bridge and predominately inbound between the R300 and the Airport approach offramp.
Criminals will also sometimes stagger the rubble so that when you swerve from one lane to the other, you collide with debris placed strategically in the lane you are swerving into.
“Do not be fooled into thinking that it’s a stone that may have fallen off a truck or it’s there by accident,” Smith warned.
“These are deliberate criminal attempts so that when vehicles break down, passengers are robbed or possibly worse.”
He said that Metro Police officers patrol the N2 for 22 hours a day.
“Motorists must be vigilant, especially at night or when visibility is less than ideal. If you must travel that time of the night, try to use a safer alternate route to your destination. Should you be forced to stop, call for help immediately so that enforcement services can be alerted and dispatched. Stay alert and monitor your surroundings until help arrives.”
Gauteng Traffic Police issued a similar warning in May.
It warned that criminals not only place objects in the road but spikes too.
Criminals would also throw hard objects from overhead bridges to cause motorists to lose control of their vehicles and rob them after they crash or stop.
The Gauteng Traffic Police identified the following routes as hotspots for these attacks:
- N4 — Mpumalanga to Pretoria, between Solomon Mahlangu and Watermeyer Offramp.
- N4 — Pretoria to Mpumalanga, between Bronkhorstspruit and Balmoral offramp.
- N1 — Polokwane/Mpumalanga interchange in Pretoria.
- N4 — Pretoria to Rustenburg between R80 Mabopane Freeway and Brits plaza tollgate.
- Golden Highway.
- R21 Freeway from OR Tambo International Airport to Pretoria.
According to the police, the criminals move from one area to another where the roads are quiet to rob motorists of their cash and other belongings.
These incidents happen especially on Friday evening and throughout the weekend between 18:00 and 04h00 in the morning.
The police offered the following safety tips for when a vehicle has been spiked:
- Never stop your vehicle if you had a puncture while spiked, instead drive slowly to the nearest garage while contacting Gauteng Traffic Police.
- If a Traffic officer stops you, demand to see their appointment certificate to verify if the relevant Traffic Authority employs them.
- If the officer fails to produce their appointment certificate, take down the registration number of the patrol vehicle and report them to immediately the nearest police station.
- If your vehicle has had a complete breakdown on the road, remain in the vehicle with your car locked while seeking assistance.
- Do not allow any person to tow your vehicle without written permission.
- Should you realise that another motorist has been spiked in your presence, please stop and give the necessary assistance.
“The placing of spikes has resulted in many road users involved in unwarranted accidents and some even losing their lives through these ruthless acts,” said Sello Maremane, spokesperson for the Gauteng Traffic Police.
“The Gauteng Traffic Police will continue to conduct law enforcement operations on major routes and freeways in Gauteng to ensure that anyone found placing an object is apprehended to face the full might of the law.”