The City of Cape Town says that it is being forced to remove loads of rubble from highways every evening as part of an ongoing trend in which hijackers are targeting motorists on highways.
The rubble, which includes bricks and blocks of concrete, is placed in the road to disable vehicles or get motorists to stop, making them vulnerable to criminals, the city said.
“It has become a near nightly occurrence for Metro Police officers to remove rubble from the N2 in addition to their regular patrols,” said the city’s mayoral committee member for safety and security JP Smith.
Aside from giving opportunistic criminals the chance to lie in wait for motorists to stop, slow down or have their vehicles disabled, the tactic also has other consequences.
“Inclement weather, such as thick mist or heavy rain, also lead to more collisions as visibility is reduced and the debris has less chance of being spotted,” Smith said.
Most of the incidents occur between midnight and 04h00 when there is less traffic on the road, he said.
‘The success of the ambush is based on motorists not being able to see the obstruction and therefore day time incidents are rare. Despite this, motorists need to be vigilant at all times and not count on daylight as a preventative measure,” he said.
While there are no exact locations for where rubble is placed, Smith said that officers concentrate their efforts between Borchards Quarry as far as the Symphony Way bridge and predominately inbound between the R300 and the Airport approach off-ramp.
There is also no lane preference and criminals will 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, he said.
“Do not be fooled into thinking that it’s a stone that may have fallen off a truck or it’s there by accident. These are deliberate criminal attempts so that when vehicles break down, passengers are robbed or possibly worse.”
Smith said that officers assist between two and six vehicles every night, but not all of these are because of the vehicle colliding with rubble.
Similar incidents in Gauteng
Authorities in Gauteng have warned of similar techniques being used by criminals in the province, with an increase in incidents of spikes placed strategically on the freeways by criminals.
Gauteng traffic police have also warned of hard objects being thrown from overhead bridges resulting in motorists losing control of their vehicles, involved in unnecessary accidents and robbed of their belongings in the process.
“The modus operandi is that these criminals move from one area to the other where the roads are quiet to rob motorists of their hard-earned cash and other belongings.
“These incidents happen especially on Friday evenings and throughout the weekend between 18h00 and 04h00 in the morning,” the Gauteng Traffic Police said.
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 police spokesperson Sello Maremane
“The Gauteng Traffic Police will continue to conduct law enforcement operations on Gauteng major routes and freeways, to ensure that anyone found placing an object is apprehended to face the full might of law.”
The following routes have been identified as hotspots for such acts:
- The N4 Mpumalanga to Pretoria between Solomon Mahlangu and Watermeyer Offramp.
- The N4 Pretoria to Mpumalanga between Bronkhorstspruit and Balmoral off-ramp.
- The N1 Polokwane N4 Mpumalanga interchange in Pretoria.
- The N4 to Rustenburg between R80 Mabopane Freeway and Brits plaza tollgate.
- Golden Highway.
- R21 Freeway from OR Tambo International Airport to Pretoria.