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Tshwane – The South African Police Service's Directorate for Priority Crime Investigation, known as the Hawks, and crime intelligence units have seized explosives from criminals in Mpumalanga, Limpopo, North West and Gauteng provinces in an ongoing blitz against automated teller machine bombings and cash-in-transit heists.

At least 13 suspects aged between 20 and 53 were arrested in a significant breakthrough in the fight against such attacks, Hawks spokesperson Brigadier Hangwani Mulaudzi.

"A number of undercover operations were held stretching across the four provinces which culminated in the apprehension of the suspects and the removal of an assortment of commercial explosives," he said.

Mulaudzi said the operation began two weeks ago, with the arrest of six suspects in Steelpoort in Limpopo province caught in possession of R400 000 worth of commercial explosives.

He said the suspects, who face charges of dealing in commercial explosives,  would appear at the Praktiseer magistrate court on Thursday to apply for bail.

Police have also arrested a 38-year-old man on two charges of dealing in commercial explosives. He appeared in the Westonaria magistrate's court and was remanded in custody. 

The ongoing blitz against dealers of explosives also culminated in the arrest of four suspects in Rustenburg, North West province on Wednesday.

"Almost R200 000 worth of commercial explosives were allegedly confiscated," said Mulaudzi. "During the operation, the members recovered 2271 units of commercial explosives components which include blasting cartridges, stinger booster caps, shock tube assemblies, safety cap fuses and a dot cord."

National head of the Hawks Lieutenant-General Godfrey Lebeya said the crackdown would continue.

"We call upon all those who are privileged to control these explosive to do so diligently. Never allow a single cartridge to land into the hands of an unauthorised person,” Lebeya said.

African News Agency (ANA)