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As the festive season is here, with Christmas parties and family outings on the high, SAPS says ” its also a time to be self-vigilante and watch out for yourselves and loved ones”. News are hot on hijackings, cash heists and smash-and-grab incidents in the run-up to Christmas in South Africa and drivers have been warned that all intersections must be regarded as “hot spots” of crime.

“All places in the townships or suburbs near street intersections, stop signs or driveways are regarded as hot spots at any given time.

“Depending on the type of car or model being sought by hijackers or other culprits, all motorists are potential victims,” the police have said.

Police spokesperson Captain Piletji Sebola said the police had taken several steps to combat hijackings and smash-and-grab incidents around the city.

These included frequent police patrols and intelligence-driven “disruptive crime prevention operations” to derail criminals’ plans.

“The involvement of the Anti-hijack Task Team forms part of the plan to infiltrate the hijackers, and to investigate the possible existence of syndicates.

“The team has made an impact in the detection of several suspects involved in hijackings, coupled with a number of arrests and convictions in the past two years.”

Sebola denied that women had been raped during some of these incidents, despite the Pretoria News having been told about an attack in Nelson Mandela Drive.

In that instance a woman was held up at a robot by two young men who got into her car, ordered her to drive a short distance and told her to stop. The men then allegedly raped the woman before taking her car.

A total of 865 cars and 40 trucks were hijacked in the capital in the 2004-2005 financial year, the police said in September. This was down from the 1 028 car and 43 truck hijackings reported in the previous year.

Police said there were 14 198 cases of theft out of motor vehicles reported last year.

Because of the high incidence of hijackings and smash-and-grab incidents in certain areas, “Hijacking Hot Spot” warning signs were erected at several intersections across the city. Some of these have, however, been removed and replaced with signs saying “Be Aware For Your Own Safety”.

It was unclear who was responsible for the removal of the original hijacking hot spot signs as the police said it was the Tshwane Metro Police’s responsibility. The Tshwane Metro Police, on the other hand, said it was the SA Police Service’s duty.

Asked why the new signs had been erected, Joe Mabunda of the Tshwane Metro Police’s crime prevention unit said they were purely informative.

“They are just to sensitise the public to be on the lookout in the vicinity, especially women, because it could be an area where smash-and-grab incidents occur.”

Mabunda said that among the city’s crime hot spots were the corner of DF Malan Drive and Bloed Street, and the corner of Proes Street and DF Malan Drive, where “criminals are taking advantage of the situation”.

The Tshwane Metro Police’s road safety campaign for the inner city over the festive season, called Operation Lethabo, kicked off last week.

While its main aim was to reduce the accident rate, it was also concentrating on nabbing hijackers and smash-and-grab culprits.

Sebola said the majority of vehicles hijacked were recovered locally.

“In most cases, hijacked vehicles that are recovered outside the country are expensive or luxury cars. Some of these cars are recovered in the neighbouring provinces such as North West and Mpumalanga and within Gauteng province.”

Some cars, he said, had been found abandoned in parking lots during the so-called “cooling-down” period, before they were taken away by the robbers.

Several suspects, believed to be runners for hijacking syndicates, have been arrested. “Between January and October 2005, the Anti-Hijacking Unit arrested 298 people and recovered several items. In October alone, 49 people had been arrested,”said Sebola

•The William Nicol Drive off ramp from the N1 from the Sandton side.
• The corner of Old Pretoria Road and 1st Avenue in Alexandra.
• New Road off ramp in Midrand.
• Riviera Road off ramp near Killarney Mall.
• Intersection of Christiaan de Wet Road and Wilgerood Road in Roodepoort.
• All the traffic lights along Louis Botha Avenue between Alexandra and Hillbrow.
• Parkwood and Saxonwold (Rosebank precinct).
• Upper Houghton and Killarney (Hillbrow precinct).
• Between 10th and 11th avenues and 4th and 7th avenues in Parkhurst (Parkview precinct).
• Glenhazel, Lombardy East and Sandringham (Sandringham precinct).
• Orange Grove and Highlands North (Norwood precinct).
• Yeoville, Bellevue and Bellevue East (Yeoville precinct).
• Wynberg, Bramley, Marlboro and Kew (Bramley precinct).
• Outside Megawatt Park.
• The corner of Kelvin Street, Pretoria Road and CR Swart (Kemptonpark precinct).
• The corner of Elgin Road and Pretoria Road (Kemptonpark precinct).
• Linksfield Road off ramp.
• Booysens Road off ramp.
• Nelson Mandela Bridge.
• Wolmarans street.
• The corner of Harrow Street and Abel Street.
• The corner of Able and Saratoga Street and Harrow Road.
• The corner of Jan Smuts Avenue and St Andrews.
• The corner of 17th Street and Krause Street Pageview.
• Heidelberg off ramp.
• Traffic light on Kyalami Drive.
• Beyers Naude off ramp.
• Rivonia off ramp.
• Midrand Road.
• Grayston 11th Street and Rivonia intersections.
• Jan Smuts Avenue and William Nicol Drive split in Hyde Park.