Three men believed to have been terrorising areas in the east of Pretoria and operating in a manner similar to that of Pretoria’s notorious “King of Bling”, William Mbatha, and his gang, were arrested on Wednesday following a raid at a house where the men were staying.
The trio, aged between 30 and 55, were arrested after their appearance at the Bronkhorstspruit Magistrate’s Court for house robbery where they had been given bail.
Police were working on information which led them to believe that the suspects were involved in more crimes than that which they had appeared for.
Police spokeswoman Lieutenant-Colonel Katlego Mogale said the suspects had just appeared in Bronkhorstspruit on charges of house robbery that occurred last year in September, when the police pounced. They had also been charged with possession of an unlicensed firearm.
“The suspects were subsequently arrested. Police escorted (them) to Equestria where they (lived) and recovered three unlicensed 9mm pistols and handcuffs,” said Mogale.
During the raid at a leafy residential complex in the suburb, police discovered police regalia, such as police reflector jackets, a police cap, a car fitted with blue lights, a detachable blue light and a police hand radio. Further searches resulted in the discovery of a laptop, 12 cellphones, cable ties and equipment used in house robberies.
They also found a police appointment certificate, a police badge and a large quantity of live ammunition for R5 and 9 mm pistols.
“Police also found four suspected stolen vehicles, including a BMW, a Mercedes Benz, and an Audi A4, and aHyundai bakkie which was identified as stolen during a house robbery in Cullinan in August 2011,” said Mogale.
It is believed that the Audi A4, which was fitted with blue lights, and the BMW 3 Series were used in road blocks which resulted in crimes being committed afterwards. A police source said they suspected the men had someone working with them in the SAPS, as it was not easy for anyone to get their hands on some of the items in their possession.
“I think they are working with someone within the organisation, because of the manner in which the lights were installed and where the switch was hidden,” he said.
Residents of Papilon Complex were shocked to see police going through the property belonging to the men and many could not believe they had potential criminals as neighbours. One neighbour said the men’s movements were very suspicious but she never thought much about them.
“The men were always in and out, it was as though they never slept. They would come in around 3am and 4am while during the day there would be very little movement,” she said. The suspects were linked to a murder case, eight attempted murder cases and eight armed robbery cases committed in the Welbekend/Bronkhorstspruit area in the past few months.
Mogale said the suspects would be appearing in the Bronkhorstspruit court on Friday to face charges of murder, attempted murders and armed robberies.