Thupeyo Muleya, Beitbridge Bureau
South Africa’s specialized crime-busting police, the Hawks have arrested the last member of a syndicate of soldiers that were involved in facilitating the smuggling of stolen vehicles from that country into Zimbabwe.
Hawks spokesperson for Limpopo, Captain Matimba Maluleke said the 31-year-old soldier from Eastern Cape Province was arrested in Polokwane on Monday.
He said the racket was made up of nine soldiers who have been on the radar since 2017.
“The ninth South African National Defence Force member aged 31 was arrested on Monday, September 21
in relation to cross-border vehicle smuggling,” said Capt Maluleke.
“He is the last member of the crew we had put on surveillance since 2017 under an intelligence-driven operation dubbed “Night Vigil”.
His eight accomplices have all appeared at Musina Magistrate Court on corruption charges and were arrested in North West, Free State, and Northern Cape provinces between June and this month. One of the suspects was arrested last week in Northern Cape”.
The official said between 2017 and 2019, the accused were deployed to Beitbridge Border Post on national duty. He said instead of carrying out their constitutional mandate, the group allegedly connived with vehicle smuggling syndicates to smuggle stolen vehicles through the Limpopo River.
Captain Maluleke said the crew would allegedly demand a bribe of R15 000 per vehicle which they would share among themselves.
“The accused were on the radar of the Hawks until they were arrested. The suspect will appear in the Musina Magistrate’s Court soon to face corruption charges.
The other eight accused persons are currently out on R3000-00 bail and will appear again on October 21,” he said.