Two suspects, Lance Corporal Sidwel Babini Tyawana (36) and Sapper Tumelo Christian Mangale (28), arrested for allegedly stealing rifles from the South African National Defence Force Pretoria military base were granted bail by a Court of Senior Military Judge on Wednesday, 22 April 2020.
The two suspects were arrested following a joint investigation by the Military Police and Gauteng branch of the Hawks National Priority Violent Crimes (NPVC) after eighteen (18) R4 rifles and three (3) pistols went missing from SA Army Engineer Formation, Tek Base in Lyttelton.
The joint investigation led to the arrest of Tyawana in Oudtshoorn, Western Cape, on 03 February this year. Two days later on 05 February, Mangale was arrested while on duty at SA Army Engineer Formation.
Meanwhile, the joint investigation discovered that the stolen firearms were hidden, whilst others were sold to different individuals, particularly in the East Rand area.
Following leads, another suspect, Kgotso Mooketsi (36), an employee of the Department of Education in Gauteng who was out on bail for an unrelated armed robbery case, was arrested in Springs in possession of an R4 rifle and 3 empty magazines.
Mooketsi, was charged and appeared at the Springs Magistrate Court on February and April respectively. He was remanded in custody pending his next court appearance 04 May 2020.
A relentless pursuit by the joint investigations team led them to Daveyton where a further thirteen (13) R4 rifles and a 9mm pistol were recovered. Another firearm, a 9mm pistol, was recovered in a veld in Kwa-Thema. The recovered firearms were sent for ballistic testing in Pretoria.
The two suspects under the employ of the SANDF are expected back in court at Thaba-Tshwane on 17 June 2020.
The National Head of the DPCI Lieutenant General Godfrey Lebeya has applauded the joint investigation team and urged not to rest until the remaining unaccounted firearms are recovered and also make sure that everyone involved is brought to book.
Meanwhile, the Chief of the South African National Defence Force, General Solly Shoke, has commended the swift action of the joint investigations team that led to the arrest of the suspects. General Shoke reiterated that the military is not the place for criminals and that those found committing crime will be dealt with through the full mighty of the law.