File picture: African News Agency (ANA).

Port Elizabeth - Four suspects have been arrested in rural Eastern Cape as part of Operation Stabilisation which aims to fight the proliferation of illegal weapons, police said on Tuesday. 

Police spokesperson, Captain Khaya Tonjeni said the operation also focused on violent stock theft robberies prevalent in rural towns of the former Transkei which include Bityi, Bhaziya in Mthatha, Qumbu and Libode. 

Tonjeni said over the last two days, four men aged between 33 and 65, were arrested and seven illegal firearms including an R5 assault rifle, nine magazines, 78 rounds of ammunition and two holsters confiscated 

The stabilisation team comprised of Mdantsane and East London Tactical Response Team (TRT), Provincial Operation Response Services (ORS), Local Criminal Records Centre (LCRC) and Public Order Police (POPS). 

Tonjeni said on Monday the team embarked on a search for illegal firearms at Blackhill, Mahlungulu and Qumbu CBD resulting in the arrest of a 38-year-old male suspect for the possession of an unlicensed firearm and ammunition. 

A second suspect, a 65-year-old man was arrested at Blackhill, Qumbu, and charged with the possession of an unlicensed firearm and ammunition after he was found with a Luger 9mm Parabellum pistol with one magazine, 47 live rounds as well as two leather holsters. 

Meanwhile, in a separate incident during a stop and search at Bityi, members received information from a community member about a shooting that had recently taken place at a local tavern in the Ematyeni Engqina locality. 

"A certain man, known in the community was alleged to have shot inside the tavern. A follow up was conducted and it led to the arrest of a 33 year old male suspect. He was charged for unlawful possession of unlicensed firearm and shooting in a prohibited municipality area." 

A 9mm pistol and four rounds of live ammunition were also found at the tavern and confiscated. 

The two suspects are expected to appear at the Mthatha Magistrate's Court on Wednesday. 

Tonjeni said another search and seizure operation at about 01:40am on Tuesday to execute search warrants while following intelligence driven information about possession of an unlicensed firearm at Gqibonco administrative Area, KwaTshapile locality in the Dalasile area led to the arrest of a 40-year-old man. 

That suspect is expected to appear at Ngcobo Magistrate's Court on Wednesday. 

African News Agency (ANA)