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The South African Police Service (SAPS) has confirmed that close to 200 Botswana registered vehicles have been stolen while visiting South Africa since the beginning of this year. Most of these vehicles are either hijacked or stolen in the North West Provence where majority of Batswana normally visit or do their shopping in various malls.
SAPS this week expressed concern at the rate at which Botswana vehicles continue to be stolen in the nearby town of Mafikeng. According to the SAPS, the Crossing Mall and Bophelong Hospital have been identified as hotspots.
In a telephone interview with The Telegraph this week Colonial Maruping of Motor Vehicle Theft based in Mafikeng police station said there are investigating a considerable number of cases in which Botswana registered vehicles have been stolen while others are hijacked at gun point.
“At this juncture we have not established why Botswana registered vehicles are such a target and I would like to emphasise that will not be condoned by SAPS,” she said.
Maruping added that they have already engaged their police crime intelligence unit to closely monitor the situation and also find out why Botswana vehicles are being targeted by criminals while in South Africa especially in the North West Provence.
“Unfortunately once these vehicles are stolen, it is hard to trace them,” she said.
Maruping indicated that preliminary investigations have revealed that most of the vehicles are smuggled into Zimbabwe via Beitbridge and Mozambique.
“We would not allow criminals to rule and terrorise any person who visits South Africa. Therefore SAPS will do its best to bring to book those who steal Batswana’s vehicles,” said Maruping.
Maruping urged Batswana to always be on the lookout and park their vehicles where it is more secure adding that they should not leave them parked in malls for a long time.
Detective Senior Superintendent of Serious Crimes Phanyoitsile Nnanaakoko said there are aware of such cases adding that the SAPS are investigating them.
“Procedurally BPS cannot discuss anything about SAPS investigations rather we have to wait for them or assist them where they need our assistance,” said Nnanaakoko.
He urged members of the public not to leave their vehicles at the parking lot for a long time while visiting other countries saying that gives criminals ample time to steal them.