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Cape Town - Suspects linked to weapons of mass destruction - and 20 alleged rebels accused of planning to overthrow the Democratic Republic of Congo’s (DRC) government - are among 56 suspects arrested for crimes against the state in a year, say the Hawks.
Based on the police’s latest annual report, which focuses on the year ending on March 31, an average of five suspects were arrested each month in South Africa for crimes against the state.
It said the 56 arrests for crimes against the state resulted in 25 convictions.
On Thursday, Hawks spokesman Paul Ramaloko said 21 Boeremag members, accused of trying to overthrow the ANC-led government, were among those convicted, and they were expected to be sentenced next week.
He said another conviction was that of Henry Okah, originally from Nigeria and the leader of the Movement for the Emancipation of the Niger Delta, who was found guilty in Gauteng of 13 terrorism counts.
Okah, linked to twin bombings in Nigeria that killed scores of people three years ago, was in March sentenced to 24 years imprisonment.
The annual report said other arrests and convictions were for, among other crimes, the “dealing (in) and possession of radioactive materials”.
When it came to the 56 arrests for crimes against the state, Ramaloko said some had to do with the contravention of the Non-Proliferation of Weapons of Mass Destruction Act and the National Conventional Arms Control Act.
Other arrests included:
* The February 5 detention of 19 alleged rebels of the Union of Nationalists for Renewal, suspected of planning to overthrow the DRC’s government, in Limpopo.
They faced charges relating to the Foreign Military Assistance Act.
Three days later the alleged ring leader, Etienne Kabila Taratibu, was arrested in Cape Town.
* The police said in December that four suspects - Mark Trollip, 48, Martin Keewy, 48, Hein Boonzaaier, 52, and Johan Prinsloo, 51, - were arrested for allegedly conspiring to commit terrorism at the start of the ANC’s Mangaung conference. “They were allegedly planning to disrupt the conference and kill ANC leadership,” it said.
The police’s annual report said the Special Task Force dealt with high-risk operations that needed specialised skills, including “acts of terror”. The Special Task Force had “successfully policed” 203 operations including 94 operations to “stabilise acts of terror”.
National police spokesman Solomon Makgale said acts of terror included ATM bombings and cash-in-transit heists.
In a section focusing on South Africa, the most recent US “Country Reports on Terrorism” said most major cities had “a sizeable community of those who use a multitude” of traditional systems to transfer money.
“Analysts believe that given a sizeable Somali community, and presence of al-Shabaab sympathisers in South Africa, (traditional money transfer systems) are probably being exploited to transfer funds to violent extremists in East Africa,” it said.