A South African was among a group of six undocumented foreign nationals arrested for possession of presumed stolen property and damage to essential infrastructure worth more than R170 000 in Melkbosstrand.
Acting on a tip-off about damages to essential infrastructure, the team spotted a white Ford Ranger parked next to the road on Friday.
“Further inspection led to the recovery of railway Pandrol springs with an estimated street value of R175 000. The members apprehended a total of seven men of which six are undocumented persons and one a South African citizen on charges relating to the possession of presumed stolen property and damage to essential infrastructure,” said police spokesperson Joseph Swartbooi.
“Damage and vandalism to essential infrastructure, such as rail and freight, poses a serious threat to the economy and job creation within our province and therefore every effort to prevent and combat these crimes remains a priority,” he said.
The suspects are expected to appear in the Atlantis Magistrate’s Court.
The arrests happened on the same day as a 35-year-old Zimbabwean was caught allegedly in possession of explosives in Barberton, Mpumalanga. He was also charged with contravention of the Immigration Act.
A tip-off led the officers to a residential place in Barberton where they found exhibits hidden in various places inside the shop. These included nine electronic detonators, 14 shock tube assemblies, 16 blasting cartridges, six industrial drilling bits and a 104m detonating cord.
“Preliminary investigation established that the explosives were smuggled from Zimbabwe. During the interview, the suspect reported that the explosives are sold mainly to illegal miners and other criminal elements,” said police spokesperson Dineo Lucy Sekgotodi.
Hailing the officer’s work, Mpumalanga head of the Hawks Nicholas Jacobus Gerber said: “Illegal explosives are used during the execution of various serious crimes. This seizure is but one of many as the Hawks are collaborating with key stakeholders to ensure the safety of our communities.”
While the suspect is expected to appear in court on Monday, police say more arrests are imminent.