Port Elizabeth police vehicles were shown up for being anything but a “flying squad” when a gang of hijackers in an Audi A6 managed to outgun them during a pre-dawn high-speed car chase yesterday.
The embarrassing incident has prompted police units to query why they do not have any high-performance vehicles, usually driven by the country’s elite Flying Squad and K9 units.
The Port Elizabeth Flying Squad unit has only two vehicles – a bakkie and a Toyota Corolla sedan – while the K9 unit has three vehicles, of which only two have kennels.
The gang is thought to have been involved in the hijack of a truck transporting about R750 000 worth of foodstuff outside Port Alfred, which was later found empty and abandoned outside Uitenhage.
Before ditching it, the gang drove to a house in Splinter Street, Hankey, where the haul, including biscuits, potato crisps and coffee, was off-loaded.
At 4am yesterday, anti-hijacking task team members spotted a well-known alleged hijacker driving an Audi A6 on the N2 heading into Port Elizabeth.
Several police vehicles gave chase, reaching speeds in excess of 200km/h, but the A6 still outraced them.
Police spokeswoman Captain Gerda Swart said the hijacking had happened at about 9pm on Wednesday.
“Six gunmen in a Corolla [pushed] the truck off the road and forced the driver into their car,” she said.
The incident was reported only later that night when the truck failed to arrive in East London.
Port Elizabeth police were mobilised to search for it along the route to Port Alfred.
Swart said the truck was eventually found abandoned in Rocklands, outside Uitenhage, early yesterday.
“It was later established that the hijackers had taken the truck to a house in Hankey, where they off-loaded all the stock,” she said.
The truck driver was dropped off in Despatch after the heist.
Police found several pallets loaded with boxes covered by a tarpaulin stashed in the yard of the property.
“The bust came after a tip-off that the truck had been spotted near the premises after the hijacking,” Swart said.
Police involved with the case said that at 4am a “well-known hijacking suspect and his gang” had been spotted speeding on the N2 into Port Elizabeth in an Audi A6.
“These guys drive better and faster cars – they know that there is no way we would catch them in our vehicles,” one policeman, who declined to be named, said.
Swart declined to comment on the car chase.
But the lack of high-performance vehicles has been plaguing the K9 and Flying Squad units for years, with, only one vehicle being on the road at times.
One irate policeman said: “Career criminals who specialise in crimes such as hijacking are well aware that they can get away from us by driving highperformance cars.
“This is why they drive these cars. They speed off and all we see is tail lights.”
According to Flying Squad members, two BMWs earmarked for the unit last week were withdrawn later by the provincial head office and replaced with two VW TDIs, which had not been delivered yet.
Another policeman said: “We were meant to get the BMWs, but then they were taken away before we even saw them.
“We were told they were going to the detectives and we would get VWs.
“Why detectives need BMWs, who knows.”
The K9 unit was also earmarked for a new bakkie.
However, it has also not been delivered – and it is not considered a highperformance vehicle.
Provincial police spokeswoman Brigadier Marinda Mills failed to respond to questions about the ongoing issue of a lack of vehicles plaguing both the Flying Squad and K9 units.