KZN Cross-Border Vehicle Hijacker and Smuggler Sentenced to 53 Years Imprisonment

Vehicle Hijacker and Smuggler

In a significant victory against cross-border criminality, a national task team deployed in KwaZulu-Natal has secured the conviction of a notorious vehicle hijacker and smuggler. Sipho “Smirnoff” Mhlanga, a key figure in a vehicle smuggling syndicate, has been sentenced to 53 years in prison.

Arrest and Conviction

Details of the Conviction

This week, the Mtubatuba Magistrate Court sentenced 37-year-old Sipho “Smirnoff” Mhlanga to 53 years imprisonment. Mhlanga, who was arrested in August 2023, was found guilty on June 19, 2024, of 10 charges including murder, aggravated robbery, and kidnapping. His arrest and subsequent conviction mark a significant blow to the syndicate smuggling hijacked and stolen vehicles from South Africa to Mozambique.

Syndicate Activities

Mhlanga’s syndicate was notorious for smuggling vehicles through various borders in KwaZulu-Natal (KZN). The task team, deployed in February 2023 to Emanguzi, has been instrumental in dismantling these criminal operations.

Previous Convictions

Accomplice Sentenced

In June 2023, Mhlanga’s accomplice, Vusi Amos Malwane, received a 55-year prison sentence from the Ingwavuma Magistrate Court. This conviction further highlights the success of the task team in bringing these criminals to justice.

Task Team Achievements

Arrests and Recoveries: Vehicle Hijacker and Smuggler

Since its deployment, the task team has arrested 276 suspects, with 107 still in police custody. They have also recovered 150 vehicles, most of which were either stolen or hijacked. Among these recovered vehicles were 93 SUVs or 4x4s and 57 sedans.

Return of Stolen Vehicles

The task team returned 135 of the recovered vehicles to their rightful owners, highlighting their effectiveness in combating vehicle theft and smuggling.

Confiscation of Firearms

Illegal Firearms Seized

The task team has also confiscated more than 70 illegal and unlicensed firearms, including 14 rifles. This significant seizure has helped curb the availability of weapons used in criminal activities.

Joint Action Plan

Vehicle Hijacker and Smuggler

Collaboration Between Mozambique and South Africa

A joint action plan is in place between the Mozambique police and the South African Police Service (SAPS) to tackle transnational crime. This collaboration involves regular meetings and joint operations aimed at preventing and combating cross-border vehicle smuggling, kidnappings, and stock theft.

Objectives of the Joint Plan

The joint action plan seeks to ensure dedicated teams from both countries work together to address and reduce cross-border criminal activities. This initiative is vital for maintaining security and law enforcement effectiveness in the region.


The conviction of Sipho “Smirnoff” Mhlanga and the continuous efforts of the national task team represent a significant advancement in the fight against cross-border criminality in KwaZulu-Natal. Through coordinated efforts and international cooperation, law enforcement agencies are making substantial progress in curbing these illegal activities.

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