June 23, 2021

Six SA soldiers arrested by elite cops for abetting cross border car smuggling

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Thupeyo Muleya, Beitbridge Bureau

Six South African soldiers were on Monday arrested by that country’s organised crime unit, the Hawks for running a massive syndicate that saw dozens of vehicles being smuggled into Zimbabwe via the Limpopo River.

The army men were arrested following intensive investigations which were carried out between 2017 and 2019 under a sting operation dubbed “Night Vigil”.

Hawks spokesperson for Limpopo, Captain Matimba Maluleke said the sting operation was launched in response to the scourge of cross-border crimes in South Africa.

He said the Hawks also roped in the Crime Intelligence, National Intervention Unit and the South African National Defence Force (SANDF) throughout the operation.

“The suspects, aged between 30 and 51, were arrested on Monday 21 June 2021 for the alleged corruption,” said Capt Maluleke.

“They were deployed at Beitbridge Border Post to defend and protect the territorial integrity of the Republic of South Africa between 2017 and 2019.

Instead of carrying out their constitutional mandate of ensuring national security at the borders, they allegedly connived with vehicle smuggling syndicates to smuggle stolen vehicles through the Limpopo River in exchange for money”.

He said the soldiers would demand R15 000 per vehicle from the smugglers and they would share the proceeds among themselves.

Capt Maluleke said the suspects, whose ranks range from Lance-Corporal to Private, were on the radar of the police until they were arrested by the team in North West, Northern Cape and Free State provinces.

He said the six will appear at the Musina Magistrate’s Court on Wednesday.

In the last 10 years South African and Zimbabwean security officials have intercepted over 100 stolen vehicles being smuggled across the Limpopo destined for Mozambique, Zimbabwe, Malawi and Tanzania.

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