NELSPRUIT – The police in Mpumalanga would like to caution the public against hitchhiking as it could place their lives at risk. Two males fell prey to suspects who robbed them of their belongings as they were hitchhiking yesterday, Tuesday 31 January 2023.
One of the victims, a 41-year-old man was hitchhiking along Uitkyk Road near Middleburg around 12:15 that day. A white Toyota vehicle with three male occupants stopped and offered him a lift. Little did he know that he was about to be robbed by these men. Few moments after he got inside the vehicle, one suspect who was seated at the back drew a knife and held him hostage. The victim was robbed of his belongings, including his mobile phone, bank cards and undisclosed amount of cash. The three suspects then forced the victim to reveal pin codes for his bank cards. Thereafter the suspects are said to have somehow withdrawn an undisclosed amount of cash from his bank account and fled. The victim later opened a case of robbery at Middleburg Police Station. No one has been arrested as yet and police are still in pursuit of the suspects.
There was another similar incident which also occurred on the same day (Tuesday, 31 January 2023) in Witbank around 15:00. A 33-year old man was reportedly hitchhiking in Clarinet along Verena Road. A VW Golf with three male occupants is said to have stopped and offered him a lift. Once he was inside the car, one of the suspects is said to have pulled out a firearm and searched and robbed him of his mobile phone as well as an undisclosed amount of cash from his possession at gunpoint. Later the victim was dropped off and the suspects fled with the robbed items. A robbery case was opened at Witbank SAPS however no one has been arrested as yet but police are continuing to look for the suspects.
It is against this backdrop as well as many other similar incidents that police warn citizens to be extra cautious. Previous warnings were given yet they seem to have fallen on deaf ears as police still receive incidents and reports of people that are robbed of their belongings whilst hitchhiking whilst others are unfortunately raped or even killed due to hitchhiking or giving lifts to strangers. It is alarming that some other people think it may not happen to them and they continue to hitchhike which often place their lives in danger.
The Provincial Commissioner of the SAPS in Mpumalanga, Lieutenant General Semakaleng Daphney Manamela has pleaded with members of the public to avoid hitchhiking. “Hitchhikers and motorists are warned to avoid such practices as this might have serious repercussions. Nonetheless criminals can use any opportunity that comes their way to satisfy their greed” said the General.
Source: South African Police Service