A joint operation between the Hawks’ National Bureau of Illegal Firearms Control and Priority Violent Crimes unit (NBIFCPVC), the Independent Police Investigative Directorate (IPID) and Crime Intelligence has led to the arrest of a ten (10) member syndicate allegedly suspected of selling commercial explosives.
The joint operation was conducted at dawn on Tuesday in the Free State towns of Thabong, Odendalsrust, Virginia, and Teunissen following four months of intense investigation.
The ten suspects aged between 28 and 46, three amongst them are police officers, are alleged to have been supplying criminal syndicates with explosives commonly used to bomb ATMs, cash in transit vehicles and vaults for cash at institutions other than the banks.
A series of transactions were conducted with the suspects wherein undercover members bought a substantial amount of explosives.
The Acting National Head of the Hawks Lieutenant General Yolisa Matakata, said the group arrest is a victory as it means the teams were committed to topple down a syndicate which has been operating for years.
“These arrests are indicative of the effectiveness of collaboration between law enforcement agencies in the fight against organised criminal behaviour. Our multidisciplinary approach has further demonstrated the ability of law enforcement agencies to work together to investigate, prosecute and disrupt organised criminal groups.
“I am extremely disappointed though about the arrest of three police officers. Breaking the very laws we are sworn to uphold is absolutely not acceptable. However, these alleged actions of a few should not reflect on the thousands who do the right thing every day,” she said.
Meanwhile, the group is expected to appear before the Fochville and Virginia Magistrates Courts today. Investigations are continuing and will be ongoing with a number of further arrests expected to follow soon.