Lying to the police about being kidnapped could see you spend 20 years in jail

But what consequences could people face for lying about crimes in a country where violence is a common occurrence?

Picture: Pixabay.com

JOHANNESBURG - A 28-year-old Gauteng woman faces charges of perjury, defeating the ends of justice and fraud after she fabricated a hijacking and kidnapping case with the police.

The woman posted updates about being hijacked on social on Wednesday night, sending a multi-disciplinary search party set up by Gauteng police on a wild goose chase.

Social media users were in a panic as the woman was updating on her ordeal allegedly from the boot of her car.

She said she was hijacked and kidnapped by unknown men in Randfontein, and had been taken to an unknown location. In one of her posts, the woman also said that she heard the men fighting about “who will have sex with me”.

Concerbed users created a hashtag (#FindSimphiweManzini) to help locate her - a practice that is now commonplace on social media after reports upon reports of missing women, sometimes culminating in their deaths.

Police said a team of detectives and members from Crime Intelligence quickly established discrepancies in the woman's version of events, and it later emerged that she lied for reasons only known to her at this point.

There are quite a number of, we could say, 'interesting' situations of people faking hijackings and kidnappings before.

In February last year, a Durban businessperson was arrested after he had colluded with a police officer and his friend to stage a “hijacking” so he could claim from his insurance company.

The 47-year-old from Glenwood reportedly conspired with his mechanic friend and an officer from Newlands East Police Station to stage a hijacking, a car crash and gunshots at the R1 million Ford Mustang GT.

In 2019, a 21-year-old man from Mpumalanga found himself behind bars when he went to report his allegedly hijacked vehicle to the police, which the police later found out to be a ploy.

But what consequences could people face for lying about crimes in a country where violence is a common occurrence?

The consequences, while not clear, could be very serious, according to the police’s Vish Naidoo.

“Let’s say, someone disappears for a long time and makes it seem like they were hijacked and they don’t give an affidavit. If that person is found, and the person has lied, there is no real criminal case we can bring against the person. But we can claim for all the expenses incurred by the security forces that we have used to try and find that person.”

According to Naidoo, while these instances might not be a common practice the police are aware of, there isn’t data available to show how many people lie about being kidnapped.

“There is no case where you would get someone who misled the authorities; it falls under perjury, fraud, or defeating the ends of justice.

WHY DO PEOPLE LIE ABOUT SUCH SERIOUS CRIMES?

According to numerous psychologists that Eyewitness News reached out to, it would be very difficult to ascertain why people would lie about being kidnapped as this would require them to study the individuals in question to understand if there were any underlying psychological issues at hand.

CAN YOU GET ARRESTED?

The short answer is YES - but according to Naidoo, the consequences for being found guilty of perjury fraud and/or defeating the ends of justice vary from a fine to up to 20 years behind bars.

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