The prevalence of stolen vehicles across South African borders is growing every year. In the past financial year alone about 30% of motor vehicles were smuggled out of the country. Vehicle tracking companies say they are concerned about the increasing number of stolen vehicles each year.
Last week, Tracker Care Guard told Parliament that the estimated value of cars sold on the black market in neighbouring countries was around R300-million a year. Most of the vehicles are sold in countries like Eswatini, Mozambique and Botswana.
Tracker Care Gaurd – a car tracking company – says vehicle crimes in South Africa are rife and require a comprehensive joint strategy between the government and other relevant stakeholders in the private sector.
Chief Operations Officer, Duma Ngcobo says most cars that leave the country’s border gates illegally are sold to countries like Swaziland, Mozambique, and Botswana. He says Gauteng province is the most lucrative gate away for most cars to other countries.
“There is an indicative number that says roughly 30 or so percent of vehicles that are stolen go through to the border. But that’s an indicative number and a deeper diver will be required. The second issue is that even in instances where vehicles are covered within the border, bringing them back into the country is often a challenge. So that is where it dilutes the numbers from creating an indicator.”
He says these include vehicles that are stolen, hijacked or illegally moved from one country to another for use or sale.
According to Ngcobo, stolen luxury cars are popular with cross-border smugglers. And Gauteng is a lucrative gateway to other countries.
“It also happens that vehicles are transported particularly in areas such as Gauteng which is the major metro. And the transportation of vehicles really follows the kind of your emigration pattern. So wherever there is a high economic activity, it predisposes to certain vehicles and I will share just now the make, the sort of look and feel of what type of vehicles. So we really see the movement of vehicles going across either in Swaziland which you pointed out and Mozambique.”
The syndicate networks use nationals from two or more countries. They are able to source stolen vehicles, facilitate illegal border crossing and find buyers in other countries.
According to Ngcobo, there are different methods used to transport vehicles over the border.
“But equally you will find vehicles that they are an attempt to be dragged through the rivers. Either use another vehicle to push that vehicle across or use live animals, donkeys etcetera to pull the vehicle across the river. And one may ask why run the risk of submerging the vehicle into water, while it would render that vehicle difficult to drive thereafter. We must understand that the purpose there might be for the use of parts for the foreign country. So it becomes the second-hand car parts distribution. It may be for repair distribution.”
Ngcobo appealed to the parliamentary committee to come up with improved security measures to curb the smuggling of stolen vehicles.
“We believe there is another kind of capabilities which can compliment those physical structures. So ultimately the cooperative approach and coordination with the SANDF as well as other bodies together with companies like tracker and others who are collegial to us like our colleagues on floor-we believe it imperative that can help us do this.”
Chairperson of the Joint Standing Committee on Defence, Cyril Xaba, says a multi-disciplinary approach to combating the smuggling of stolen vehicles is essential.
“The move by the KZN government to put up JZ bearers as a force multiplier is really commendable. And we recommend that this concept be extended to other parts of the country where this is a problem. The committee also recommends the scaling up of technology as a force multiplier and a multidisciplinary approach with our social partners that is intelligence-driven so that our government can come on top of this problem.”
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