Two South African soldiers aged 27 and 38 were on Friday evening arrested along with a 30-year-old foreigner when using an army vehicle to transport 12 crates of cigarettes worth R160 000 smuggled from Zimbabwe.
The army men and the foreigner, whose names are yet to be released by South Africa’s police services, are expected to appear at the Musina Magistrates Court soon.
Limpopo police spokesperson Brigadier Motlafela Mojapelo confirmed the arrest yesterday.
The three were intercepted near Baobab Truck Stop along the N1 highway following a tip-off while on their way to meet a potential buyer.
“The police at Beitbridge received information about an army vehicle which was loaded with illicit cigarettes which were to be delivered to an unidentified buyer around Musina,” said Brig Mojapelo.
“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.”
Upon being stopped by police, the two uniformed soldiers and a civilian wearing an army jacket, disembarked from the vehicle.
Brig Mojapelo said the vehicle was then searched and 12 crates of Remmington Gold cigarettes valued at R160 000 were found packed in the back of the vehicle. The civilian was immediately arrested but the armed soldiers reportedly became confrontational and refused to be arrested.
“The police then confiscated the said vehicle. The soldiers were later brought to the police station by their commander and were then detained. They will be charged with possession of illicit cigarettes, defeating the ends of Justice and resisting arrest,” said Brig Mojapelo.
The undocumented foreigner will be charged with impersonating members of South Africa’s National Defence Forces and contravening a section of the Immigration Act.
Limpopo Police Commissioner Lieutenant General Thembi Hadebe commended her subordinates reacting swiftly to the tip-off and apprehending the suspects. – Herald