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Tshwane strikes back at asset thieves

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Pretoria - The Hawks were continuing investigations into Tshwane's vanishing assets after four municipal employees were arrested on Friday, municipal spokesman Lindela Mashigo said on Friday.

“Our forensic investigators established that about 52 bulk waste bins were taken from our depot. Each steel bulk bin costs about R120,000,” said Mashigo.

“We have lost about R6 million. This was discovered as we audited our assets. We then enlisted the services of the Hawks.”

Four employees of the Tshwane municipality were arrested by the Hawks in Pretoria on Friday on charges of theft.

Mashigo said as investigations deepen, more municipal employees could be arrested in the anti-crime blitz.

“We have since established that some street poles were stolen. We will have to establish the cost, it will certainly be massive,” he said.

“This is not the end of the investigations. It's probably not only these four that were involved. We are having our own investigations that may reveal the deviant behaviour happening in the depots.”

Hawks spokesman Paul Ramaloko said the four municipal employees were apparently supplying municipal metal assets to a Bulgarian national who would in turn export the loot as scrap metal.

“This is the second leg of our investigations into an arrest we made last week. We arrested a Bulgarian national for illegally operating a scrap metal dealership and also for possession of suspected stolen scrap metal,” said Ramaloko.

“We traced the scrap metal to the City of Tshwane and other entities. Today we have arrested four suspects, employees of the City 1/8of 3/8 Tshwane, who have been apparently been stealing scrap metal from this pound.”

The unsuspecting employees were nabbed at their workplace, a waste management centre west of Pretoria.

Fellow employees watched as the four were handcuffed and taken away in unmarked police vehicles.

Ramaloko said the syndicate was shipping the scrap metal to countries as far afield as India.

“We managed to intercept one consignment of the scrap metal belonging to the city (Tshwane) which was destined for India. This is not the last leg of the investigation.”

He said various entities that had their assets stolen will quantify the monetary value of their losses.

The items targeted by the syndicate include street lamp posts, billboards and huge municipal metal bins which are then chopped into pieces before export.

Ramaloko said the Bulgarian national appeared in the Pretoria North Magistrate's Court on Thursday and was granted R10 000 bail.

Sapa


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