National 5.9.2016 02:23 pm

Police respond ‘poorly’ to Roodepoort bike theft ‘syndicate’

This Suzuki Boulevard 1800 was stolen the day after the photo was taken at Wayne Heasman's funeral. Picture: Supplied

This Suzuki Boulevard 1800 was stolen the day after the photo was taken at Wayne Heasman's funeral. Picture: Supplied

Allegations of tardy police work in Roodepoort are in the spotlight, as they have failed to make headway in reported cases of stolen motorbikes.

Avid motorcycle enthusiast Pieter Fourie woke up on the morning of August 8 to find his prized bike missing, reports the Roodepoort Record.

It was about 6.30am when he walked out of the house he shares with his girlfriend, Lizette Schoeman. While walking towards his electric gate, he noticed it was partially open and then saw that one of the garages, with a vehicle parked in front of it, was also open and that boxes that were supposed to be inside were stacked outside.

Fourie then went cold as he realised that his Suzuki Boulevard 1800 (affectionately christened ‘Ou Bees‘), his girlfriend’s Honda Shadow 750 as well as her visiting son’s Kawasaki ZX 10R were missing. Fourie called the police. Shortly after, his neighbour came to tell him his three dogs had been poisoned and that two had died. It was also found that the electric fence between the two properties had been cut. Not only was the lock on the gate broken, the wires of the alarm were cut and the gate-motor was disengaged.

“These guys were professionals. They planned this way ahead of time. We must have been under surveillance for a while,” said Fourie.

Then his woes with the police started.

Firstly, the police officer made a hash of the statement by insisting the incident was a vehicle theft, even though Fourie and Schoeman told him it was a housebreaking with the theft of vehicles. The police officer said they would send someone to take fingerprints. The next day Fourie went to the police station, where he was told by a warrant officer that “the police do not take fingerprints anymore because it does not help”. Fourie was flabbergasted. When he asked the officer what they then did on crime scenes, he was told “it is none of your business”.

The following day, Fourie was back at the Roodepoort Police Station in a less amicable mood. He insisted on seeing Colonel Mbatha to lay a complaint in writing, but he refused to accept a written complaint. Eventually Mbatha agreed to transfer the case back from the vehicle investigation unit to the Roodepoort Police Station. Mbatha told Fourie he could write his own statement, but by September 1, the police had yet to collect the statement or come to take fingerprints.

Meanwhile, Fourie and his son recovered one of the motorcycles – the Suzuki Boulevard. Due to the sensitive nature of the case, the Record cannot reveal how this was done. However, Fourie informed the police that he had recovered one of the motorcycles, but they failed to ask how he managed to do this.

“I still have not washed it, so they can take fingerprints. And why did they not make the effort to ask how I got the bike back? Should that not be of utmost importance for their investigation?” Fourie wanted to know.

When the Record approached the Roodepoort Police Station for comment on September 1, spokesperson Nonhlanhla Khumalo said she was disappointed with the tardy police work and that it was unacceptable.

She also took down all the information regarding the syndicate and immediately called a meeting with station commander Brigadier Khupiso. Later that afternoon, she said: “We are treating the matter of the syndicate as a high priority and have launched an immediate investigation.”

She did not want to divulge what the nature of the investigation would be. She also said she would contact Fourie, but by September 5, they still had not done so. Fourie phoned the police himself, but no one responded to the messages he left.

Meanwhile, sources have made the following allegations about the syndicate:

• The kingpin, whose name is known to the Roodepoort Record, is based in Mozambique.

• The syndicate’s South African leg is based in Randfontein. They steal motorcycles across the West Rand.

• Many of its members are heavily armed former Renamo soldiers.

• They usually strike on Sunday nights.

• They steal the motorcycles in 10 to 15 minutes.

• Two Roodepoort police officers have been keeping a log of the thefts for the past seven months, yet no task team has been formed to investigate the phenomenon.

• Both policemen and custom officials on both sides of the border allegedly are involved.

• The syndicate identifies the motorcycles they want to steal by taking down the registration numbers of motorcycles at biker gatherings such as rallies, and then tracing them through their contacts within law enforcement to the owner’s address.

• They only steal new motorcycles and prefer to strike targets who own more than one motorcycle.

Caxton News Service

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