Pretoria – A ninth member of the South African National Defence (SANDF), aged 31, has been arrested in connection with cross-border vehicle smuggling, the Directorate for Priority Crime Investigation [Hawks] said on Tuesday.
“The suspect forms part of eight SANDF members who were arrested in North West, Free State and Northern Cape provinces on 21 June 2021 during a sting operation between the Hawks, National Intervention Unit and SANDF members under the project dubbed ‘Night Vigil’,” said Hawks spokesperson in Limpopo, Captain Matimba Maluleke.
He said between 2017 and 2019, the accused soldiers were deployed at the Beitbridge border post “to protect the territorial integrity” of South Africa.
“Instead of carrying out their constitutional mandate, the accused allegedly connived with vehicle smuggling syndicates to smuggle stolen vehicles through the Limpopo River. It is further alleged that each vehicle would pay R15 000 that would be shared among themselves,” said Maluleke.
“The accused were on the radar of the Hawks until they were arrested. The suspect [the one arrested on Monday] will appear in the Musina Magistrate’s Court soon to face corruption charges.”
Maluleke said the eight other accused soldiers are currently on R3000 bail. They will return to court on 25 October.
In June, two soldiers were arrested for allegedly transporting illicit cigarettes across the border between South Africa and Zimbabwe, using an SANDF vehicle.
The police spokesperson in Polokwane, Brigadier Motlafela Mojapelo, said the two soldiers were arrested along with a 30-year-old undocumented foreign national.
He said police at Beitbridge received information about an army vehicle loaded with illicit cigarettes which were to be delivered to an unidentified buyer around Musina.
“They then reacted by staging a stop-and-search operation next to the Baobab Truck Park along the N1 road north of Musina. The army vehicle fitting the description given approached and the members pulled it over,” Mojapelo said.
The soldiers and a civilian wearing an army jacket alighted from the vehicle, which was then searched and 12 boxes of illicit cigarettes were found.