One of the arrested suspects.
Read the updates here.
The Nzhelele community's members were reeling in shock when they learned that a member of the SANDF (South African National Defence Force) was among those suspected of a daring daylight robbery.
Three suspects were arrested at Siloam, near the Sasol Garage, on Monday after a high-speed police chase. The suspects, including the SANDF member, had allegedly robbed staff members of cash and cell phones at a local hardware store.
The incident took place in the Dzanani CBD, commonly known as the Biaba Shopping Centre. According to the provincial police spokesperson, Lt-Col Moatshe Ngoepe, the three suspects held the employees of the hardware shop at gunpoint and took their cell phones.
All three fled the scene in a BMW 540i (belonging to the SANDF), a VW Jetta and a Mercedes Benz.
The police were notified and they immediately started searching for the suspects. A provincial tracking team, the SAPS’s air wing, the crime intelligence unit, as well as members from the Mphephu and Siloam police stations took part in the operation.
One of the suspects’ vehicle was later spotted near Mavhoi Village, along the R523 road and the police gave chase. Near Matanda Village, the three suspects realised that they were cornered and they stopped, after which they were immediately arrested.
“They knew that they could not outrun us. We gave chase from the ground and our members in the air could easily track them,” said Ngoepe on Tuesday.
Ngoepe confirmed that after the arrests, four vehicles, two 9mm pistols, balaclavas, gloves, two dashboard blue lights and cash to the amount of R2 531 were recovered.
They were shocked to learn that one of the vehicles, a BMW 540i, belonged to the SANDF’s VIP section. The VW Jetta was hijacked in Primrose in Gauteng and the Mercedes Benz in Pietermaritzburg. The origin of the fourth vehicle, a VW Polo, is still being investigated.
Following the arrests, the SANDF condemned their member's alleged involvement by way of their spokesperson, Mr Siphiwe Dlamini.
“The SANDF condemns actions of this nature and wants to assure the public that it has a zero tolerance towards criminal behaviour by its members. Harsh measures will be taken against those found to have contravened its Code of Conduct,” said Dlamini in a statement released to the press on Tuesday.
At the time of our going to press, the three suspects had yet to appear in court. It was expected that they would be brought to the Dzanani Magistrate's Court on Thursday to face charges - among others, business robbery and the illegal possession of firearms.
Ngoepe also confirmed that the suspects will appear in the Dzanani Magistrate's Court soon. Further police investigations are still continuing.
The SAPS’s provincial commissioner, Lt Genl Nneke Ledwaba, has commended all the police officers who participated in the operation and said it was a job well done. The general has reiterated his strong warning to all criminals out there that Limpopo cannot be turned into their playground.
“We are equal to the task as the police and members of the community must continue supporting us with quality and reliable information about any criminal activities occurring around their areas in order for us to deal with them successfully,” said General Ledwaba.
Date:28 April 2018 - By: Maanda Bele
Maanda Bele, born and raised in Nzhelele Siloam, is currently a third year journalism student at the Tshwane University of Technology.
He is passionate about current news and international affairs.
He joined the Zoutnet team as an intern in 2017.