"MANZINI police have made a major break-through by arresting three car hijackers in connection with the hijacking of 10 mini-buses in Manzini. The three, who are part of a syndicate believed to be run from South Africa, were arrested in October last year, after Manzini police received a tip-off from some members of the public. One of the suspects was arrested in Phongola and the rest were arrested while in the country. A reliable source said the kombis were taken at gun point in various places around Manzini and sent to South Africa where there is a big market for public vehicles. One of the kombis, according to the source was hijacked at Kwaluseni in September when its driver slowed down while approaching some speed humps. Another vehicle was taken at night at Ngwane Park in Manzini and yet another was taken at gun point while parked at Mhlaleni. It was gathered that the vehicles have not been recovered and as a result the suspects are being remanded in custody due to lack of sufficient evidence. Police Assistant Public Relations Officer, Ross Maseko also confirmed the theft of the public vehicles.
"He said some kombis owners did report the incident at the police station and that police were investigating the incidents.
" 'I am not in a position to comment any further since this might prejudice the complaints and disturb our investigations,' he said.
"One of the kombi owners expressed concern about manner the police were handling the investigations.
" 'The evidence is there, but police are failing to action the incident promptly,' said the worried kombi owner, who preferred to remain anonymous.
" 'Some of the suspects have already appeared before court and are being remanded in custody due to lack of evidence. What was gathered was that the suspects were linked to a certain hijacker based in South Africa, but local police officers have not made any attempt to arrest him. What worries us most is that not a single kombi has been recovered to date.'
"Other kombi owners have implicated some senior police officers in the theft of kombis and bribe scandals.
"However, Maseko refused to comment on the matter."
November 27, 1998