Police task teams are clamping down on cross-border vehicle smugglers in northern KwaZulu-Natal and have arrested three more suspects who are suspected of being part of a notorious syndicate that smuggles stolen vehicles into Mozambique.
Thokozani Dlamini (36), Sipho Mhlanga (36), and Xolani Mkhwanazi (28) were arrested this week during a take down operation in Empangeni.
Brigadier Athlenda Mathe SAPS national spokesperson said two of the suspects are also accused of killing a prominent anti-crime activist, Sipho “Juda” Mthethwa who was gunned down outside his home in February this year.
Mthethwa also served as the Chairperson of the Umhlabuyalingana Society Against Crime organisation and was at the forefront of the fight against cross-border crime in areas around uMkhanyakude.
They were found in possession of two unlicensed pistols and a number of rounds of ammunition. Ballistic testing has been conducted on the two firearms to determine whether they have been used in crimes.
Mathe said the three suspects appeared before various courts in Northern KwaZulu-Natal, including Empangeni, Emanguzi, and Ngwelezane Magistrate's Court on charges of murder, kidnapping, car hijacking, and possession of unlicensed firearms and ammunition.
The trio is being linked to at least 52 more cases related to car hijackings in northern KZN.
SAPS national commissioner General Fannie Masemola commended the task team's efforts and expressed confidence that more arrests would be made and more vehicles would be recovered.
“We will continue to respond accordingly to ensure we prevent and combat crime in communities like Umkhanyakude. Since the inception of crime combatting operations like Operation Shanela we have managed to arrest 99 754 suspects with a bid to ensure safer communities since 08 May 2023”, said General Masemola.