Five in court on radioactive theft charge

The five men who were arrested for allegedly being in possession of a highly radioactive metal, will apply for bail next week.

The smartly dressed accused will remain in custody until then.

Andre Lesar, 37, of Vanderbijlpark, Theofilus Faber, 63, of Les Marais, Nonyana Sydney Maodi, 58, of Mamelodi East and Rufus Monare, 53, of Mamelodi West, were arrested on July 9 during a "well co-ordinated police sting operation, while selling a radioactive material to an undercover police officer", the Pretoria Regional Court heard on Monday.

Further investigation led to the arrest of Setjhaba Michael Mofokeng, 31, of Tembisa, on Sunday. The first four accused all had legal representatives, while Mofokeng still has to obtain a lawyer.

As their family members sat wide-eyed in the public gallery, the case was postponed to confirm the men's addresses and criminal records.

The lawyers then informed the court that they would also bring a formal bail application next week.

So far the men are facing a charge of being in possession of explosives, but further charges of theft and violating the Health Department's prohibition of handling this material in public might be added later, pending further investigations.

The first four suspects were arrested at a petrol station in Garsfontein during a high risk operation by the Hawks' specialised tactical unit.

Hawks spokesman, Colonel Musa Zondi, said the four were arrested as they tried to sell the stolen device in an illegal transaction.

He said the recovered piece was a sample of a device which was supposed to be sold for R45 million. - Hanti Otto

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