It has been almost three months now since an unmarked vehicle with a flashing blue light hijacked a courier vehicle and allegedly stole the post-race equine specimens from Africa’s Greatest Horserace, the Vodacom Durban July.
In a press release issued issued two days after the race, the NHA confirmed that on Saturday 7 July 2018, sometime after 21h30, the courier service vehicle, which was transporting the post-race equine specimens taken after every race on the day, from Greyville Racecourse, was pulled over on the N2 freeway by an unmarked white VW Golf 7:
The statement continued:
This unmarked vehicle had a flashing blue light as well as a PA system. The driver assumed that it was a police vehicle and followed their instructions to pull over. The driver was ordered to get out of the courier vehicle and told to lie down on the ground. Three plain-clothed males alighted from the unmarked white vehicle and proceeded to rob the driver of his personal effects, including his wallet and cell phone. The three men also accessed the courier vehicle and removed all the sealed boxes containing the raceday specimens. They then left, leaving the vehicle and driver at the scene. The courier service has opened a criminal case at the Westville Police Station.
On Sunday 8 July 2018 at 11h30, a woman was walking in the Pigeon Valley Nature Reserve in Glenwood, Durban, to visit family members who stayed in the vicinity. On the pathway she found the specimen boxes, which had been forced open, with the specimens still inside. She then noticed that there was information on the boxes which stated “Greyville 7/7/2018”. On her return to the area a few hours later, she saw that the boxes had disappeared.
The courier company is waiting for the case number to be assigned.
So what happens from here?
While our racing regulator has been a drifting rudderless ship for many months, is there any excuse that the day-to-day functions are not being carried out by management?
Some simple questions arise…
Were there no separately stored back-up specimens?
Has the case number been issued?
Have processes and systems been reviewed?
What stops this from happening again?
Has this embarassing incident been handled correctly and what have we learnt from it?