Police arrest "Rolex" mastermind

Thursday, November 12, 2009

Pretoria - Gauteng police have arrested the alleged mastermind behind the notorious gang which has been targeting a Johannesburg community and robbing residents of their luxury watches and vehicles.

Police spokesperson, Inspector Moses Maphakela told BuaNews that the "most-wanted" man was arrested in Sandton, Johannesburg, on Wednesday after a high-speed chase and gun battle between the suspect and police.

Inspector Maphakela said the 35-year old man is an alleged leader of the Rolex watch gang, adding that his arrest would be a breakthrough to the rest of the gang members. The suspect can not be named as he has not appeared in court.

"This person was the one involved in the Rolex watch gang. He was the mastermind and the king of this gang. We arrested him after a tip-off and we will soon arrest his companions," Inspector Maphakela said confidently.

He said police had ambushed the man at a clinic in Morningside. "When police approached the man, he fled through police vehicles in a C-Class Mercedes Benz.

"Police opened fire on him and the shooting ensued. He was then shot in his left arm and subsequently arrested," Inspector Maphakela said.

The man, who is at an unidentified hospital under police guard, has been charged with possession of illegal firearm and ammunition. He was also charged with hijacking and possession of stolen goods.

Inspector Maphakela added that the suspect would soon be charged with a spate of robberies and hijackings, after the completion of an investigation and after the proper procedures have been made.

The so-called "Rolex Gang" has been named for their modus operandi of identifying shoppers at upmarket shopping malls in areas like Sandton, Fourways, Parkview, Bramely, Midrand and Rosebank.

Inspector Maphakela told BuaNews that the gang would follow their victims to their residence and when they stopped at the gate, the men will then rob them of their luxury watches and vehicles.

"The victims have advised police that the men use to drive in expensive cars such BMW X 5, Mini Cooper, Golf 5 or C-Class Mercedes Benz, meaning that they target rich people," he said.

On Tuesday, Inspector Maphakela said police nearly captured the suspect after he was involved in a hijacking of a car in Randburg loaded with R250 000 worth of cigarettes.

In that incident, police gave chase from Randburg until Bramley when seven of the eight hijackers escaped from a parking lot. One of the suspected hijackers was arrested.

Inspector Maphakela said the police believe that the suspect was the leader of the gang based on intelligence, adding that everywhere the gang operated the victims mentioned his name and he always disappeared when police approached him.

The suspect had already been arrested for a hijacking and driveway robberies at least once and had previously appeared in Wynburg Magistrates' court where he was denied bail.

Inspector Maphakela said he then applied to the Johannesburg High Court where R10 000 bail was granted.

Inspector Maphakela confirmed that the suspect would not appear in court for this incident until he was released from hospital.