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E1 million car sold for E6 000

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By WELCOME DLAMINI - SWAZI TIMES-28-Jul-2009

MBABANE – A Mercedes-Benz valued at E1m, which was stolen in South Africa has been sold for a meagre E6000 by a hijacking syndicate that also allegedly operates in Swaziland.

The stolen vehicle belonged to former Gauteng MEC for Agriculture, Conservation and Environment Nomantu Nkomo-Ralehoko who resigned her position after reports that she hurriedly purchased the luxurious car and lost it overnight after her husband was hijacked outside their home in Alberton.

South African newspaper, The Star, yesterday reported that the hijacking syndicate targets luxurious vehicles and allegedly uses Swaziland to hide stolen automobiles before sending them to customers in African countries. After Nomantu’s vehicle was hijacked by the syndicate, it was reportedly quickly driven into Swaziland before it could be taken to its eventual destination, Tanzania, where it was sold for the paltry E6000.

Arrested

The Star reported that three members of the hijacking syndicate had since been arrested. According to the newspaper, an unidentified police officer revealed that the syndicate’s modus operandi is to smuggle a car into Swaziland as quickly as possible and then drive it to its eventual destination, Tanzania. The gang reportedly targets 4x4s and sends them to its customers in African countries.

Last Friday, the three arrested hijack suspects namely John Phalane, 29, Lefa Moloi, 25, and Sibusiso Sithole, 32, who appeared briefly in the Johannesburg Magistrate’s Court on charges of robbery with aggravated circumstances. The case was postponed.

Phalane and Moloi were remanded, while Sithole’s 40 000 bail, granted on July 3, was extended. Phalane and Moloi were arrested in Katlehong on June 11 and pointed out Sithole, who was arrested in Spruitview. A police officer told The Star that more arrests would follow soon.

Phalane, who has an artificial leg after being shot during a hijacking arrest, is a convicted hijacker who is also facing a charge of housebreaking and theft, The Star reported.


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