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FREE STATE – A 42 year old suspect was arrested in Johannesburg on Wednesday, 21 December 2022 by the Hawks’ Serious Organised Crime Investigation team together with Tactical Response Team (TRT) all based in Welkom for dealing in protected plants.

His arrest emanates from an incident which took place on Tuesday, 13 September 2022 where a female traffic official based in Kroonstad was doing normal patrol duties on the N1. She then drove to the filling station to pour fuel, while she was at the filling station she became suspicious of a vehicle, white combi which was at the filling station. She approached the driver of the vehicle and asked for his driver’s license. While she was inspecting the drivers’ license and the vehicle she noticed that the back seat in the middle was removed and covered with the blankets. She requested the suspect to remove the blankets.

The suspect removed the blankets and the traffic official discovered that he is transporting protected plants (cycads) which he couldn’t account for. She then requested the suspect to follow her to the police station. While they were on their way to the police station the suspect stopped the vehicle and indicate that it had broken down. The suspect then tried to entice the traffic official who refused and called for backup. The suspect fled on foot and left the vehicle. Police came to the crime scene and impounded the vehicle for further investigation where they discovered the cycads estimated to the value of more than R2 million.

The suspect is expected to appear before the Kroonstad Magistrates’ Court today, 22 December 2022 where he will face charges of dealing in protected plants.