eThekwini Municipality has raised concerns that cross-border crime syndicates are now targeting the City after two men headed to Mozambique from South Africa were arrested with municipal LED street lights valued at over R1.8 million at the weekend.
The suspects, aged 31 and 44, were arrested for possession of property suspected to be stolen and they both appeared at the Manguzi Magistrate’s Court on Monday.
Directorate for priority crime investigation (Hawks) spokesperson Lieutenant Colonel Simphiwe Mhlongo said on Saturday Hawks members from Richards Bay Serious Organised Crime Investigation working together with the Kosi Bay Border Management Authority (BMA) were conducting a joint operation at the Kosi Bay Port of Entry when they stopped a vehicle, coming from South Africa to Mozambique, that was pulling a trailer.
“A search was conducted and 52 LED street lights engraved as property of eThekwini Municipality were found. Suspects could not give reasonable explanation on how they obtained the municipality property,” he said.
According to Mhlongo, a municipal official was summoned to the crime scene and he positively identified the street lights as the property of the municipality.
“The two were placed under arrest and charged for possession of property suspected to be stolen as well as tampering with essential infrastructure,” he said.
The City said that the lights were valued at just over R1.8 million and that the municipality was working closely with police to investigate the matter.
“eThekwini Municipality is concerned that cross-border crime syndicates are now targeting the municipality, which could have a detrimental impact on service delivery.”
The City appealed for law enforcement authorities to be allowed space and time to investigate the matter without undue pressure.
“The municipality commends the police for their swift action and efforts in thwarting the cross-border crime syndicate.”