Fuel fiend arrested after mad dash to escape

CCTV footage of the incident. The pump is in mid air.

A POTENTIALLY explosive situation was fortunately averted on Monday night thanks to the quick action of a petrol attendant and a Durban policeman.

It all happened when two men driving a white VW Polo drove into the forecourt at Bulwer Park Service Station at around 7.30pm.

According to the owner of Bulwer Park Service Station, Tony Ball, the driver asked for R650 worth of fuel. Ball has a policy that attendants can ask for money upfront, or check that the credit or debit card being offered is valid. Alert petrol attendant Lancelot Duze proceeded to serve the customer but became suspicious and stopped the pump at R57 and asked the driver for his credit card so he could make sure payment could be made.

“He tried the card twice, but it was was declined. Suddenly the driver started his car and sped off with the nozzle still in his filler cap!” said Ball.

The pump was ripped from its mountings and dragged along behind the fleeing vehicle. It eventually came loose and ended up in Bulwer Road, blocking the left lane. Shocked by what had happened, Ball’s staff sprang into action.

“My cashier, Kenneth Buthelezi called me and I rushed to the site. The staff had put four cones around the pump where it lay in the road to ensure that traffic didn’t crash into it. They also handed me the number plate that had fallen off the vehicle as it sped away.While we were moving the pump back onto the driveway and sorting out the issues, a police vehicle pulled up with the white Polo behind it,” said Ball.

 

W/O Hennie De Beer, a policeman with long standing service, had been driving past at the time of the incident and had witnessed the driver make a dash with the petrol pump in tow. De Beer made a U-turn and set off after the getaway vehicle. He finally chased the vehicle down in Gale Street where he arrested the driver. The driver was taken to Umbilo SAPS to be charged with driving off without paying for fuel, malicious damage to property and fraud.

“He was charged with fraud as the licence disc on the car showed a different registration number, so clearly there was intention to defraud. Lancelot made a statement to the police as well,” said Ball, adding that he had spoken to the driver of the vehicle who had tried to bluff his way out of trouble by saying he had driven off to get cash. 

Ball praised his attendant, Lancelot, for being diligent. He said by switching the pump off when he did, he had averted the possibility of a fire. Had he not done so, more fuel than that which was in the hose would have been spilled and would in all likelihood have been ignited by the sparks that occurred as the pump was pulled out of its mounting and dragged behind the vehicle along the forecourt. Ball said he was impressed by Lancelot’s vigilance and the fact that he had checked the driver’s credit card before filling the tank. He said he had rewarded his attendant for his vigilance.


Tony Ball with the damaged petrol pump.

Tony Ball with the damaged petrol pump.

 

Lancelot Duze was praised for his actions.

Lancelot Duze was praised for his actions.

  AUTHOR
Lauren Walford
Journalist

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