KZN cross border vehicle hijacker and smuggler sentenced to 53 years imprisonment

KZN cross border vehicle hijacker and smuggler sentenced to 53 years imprisonment
Sipho “Smirnoff” Mhlanga

A national task team deployed to the northern parts of KwaZulu-Natal to clamp down on cross border criminality has once again ensured the successful conviction of another wanted cross border vehicle hijacker and smuggler.

This week, the Mtubatuba Magistrate Court sentenced 37-year-old Sipho “Smirnoff” Mhlanga to 53 years imprisonment. Mhlanga was arrested in August 2023 and was linked to a syndicate that had been smuggling hijacked and stolen vehicles from South Africa to Mozambique through various borders in KZN.

Mhlanga had been in custody since his arrest and was found guilty on 19 June 2024 for 10 counts of charges including murder, aggravated robbery and kidnapping.

In June 2023, Mhlanga’s accomplice, Vusi Amos Malwane was sentenced to 55 years imprisonment by the Ingwavuma Magistrate Court.

To date, the task team which was deployed in February 2023 to Emanguzi has arrested 276 suspects with 107 still in police custody.

150 vehicles that were either stolen or hijacked have been recovered, with the majority of those recovered being 4 x 4 vehicles. During this period 93 SUVs and or 4×4 vehicles and 57 sedans were recovered.

135 of these vehicles have been handed over to their lawful owners.

More than 70 illegal and unlicensed firearms were also confiscated which include 14 rifles.

There is a joint action plan in place between the Mozambique police and the South African Police Service which is aimed at addressing transnational crime in both countries.

The joint action plan aims to ensure a dedicated team from both countries meet on a regular basis to conduct joint cross border operations with the aim of preventing and combating cross border vehicle smuggling, kidnappings and stock theft.

SAPS Newsroom