Picture: Motlabana Monnakgotla/African News Agency (ANA) Archives
Picture: Motlabana Monnakgotla/African News Agency (ANA) Archives

Scrap metal dealers arrested in Mpumalanga for theft of Transnet railway tracks, transformers

By Jonisayi Maromo Time of article published Aug 31, 2021

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Pretoria - The Directorate for Priority Crime Investigation [Hawks] in Mpumalanga has arrested 16 people for damaging and stealing Transnet infrastructure, including railway tracks and transformers.

“Suspects aged between 35 and 45 were arrested by members of the Hawks' serious organised crime investigation in Middelburg, together with Transnet investigators during an intelligence-driven operation on Monday at Vaalbank in Middelburg,” said Hawks spokesperson in Mpumalanga, Captain Dineo Lucy Sekgotodi.

She said the law enforcement agents had received information that intruders who had stolen railway lines in Santa Dullstroom were driving towards Middelburg.

“The team followed up the information and found four trucks inside Mashcor Scrap metal dealer, still loaded with railway tracks,” said Sekgotodi.

“During further investigation, the fifth truck loaded with transformers and palisade [fencing] which was positively identified by Transnet officials arrived. The railway tracks were stolen from the decommissioned line while the transformers and palisade were stolen from the working substation.”

Sekgotodi said of the 16 people arrested, 14 of them are foreign nationals. She said they were charged for possession of suspected stolen property, theft and damaging of essential infrastructure.

“The owner of the scrap metal was traced and also arrested. The suspects are expected to appear before the Middelburg Magistrates' Court soon,” she said.

In February, hardly a week after President Cyril Ramaphosa bemoaned cable and transformer theft during the State of the Nation Address, the SAPS in Pretoria arrested a man in Sinoville with 10 transformers worth R1.7 million.

During his address at the time, Ramaphosa said task teams had been set up to deal with crimes like cable theft, railway infrastructure vandalism, and transformer snatching, which hampered economic activity and discouraged investment.

African News Agency (ANA)

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