093 2015.06.15 Two police officers where allegedly arrested along with a van driver found in position of stolen cigarette, just after Grasmere Plaza toll gate at Engen Garage. Picture:Bhekikhaya Mabaso

Johannesburg - Two police officers from the Soweto Flying Squad were arrested after they were found in the company of the driver of a van loaded with stolen boxes of cigarettes.

After being handcuffed by their own colleagues from the Ekurhuleni metro police department (EMPD) and bundled inside police vans, the officers were later released without an explanation.

The officers were arrested yesterday on the N1 near the Grasmere tollgate, south of Joburg, when EMPD officers found them with the driver of a white van loaded with stolen cigarettes worth more than R300 000.

The cigarettes were allegedly stolen during an armed robbery at Vredefort in the Free State around 8am.

It is alleged that the van was used as a getaway vehicle at the crime scene.

Two other suspects, who were travelling in another vehicle, are still at large.

Gauteng police spokesman Major Mack Mngomezulu said the Soweto Flying Squad members who were posted in the area had spotted the stolen truck at the Grasmere tollgate.

“The metro police alerted the Flying Squad that the truck was transporting stolen cigarettes. The truck stopped again at a service station. It had a tracking device. The cigarettes were allegedly robbed from the British American Tobacco van,” Mngomezulu said.

The 43-year-old driver was on his way to Mamelodi near Pretoria.

The driver had driven past the tollgate, where only his driving licence and vehicle registration disc were checked by the Flying Squad members.

Moments later, the same police officers followed him.

At the time, both the police and the driver of the van were unaware that the EMPD officers and officials from the tracking company were following them.

Mngomezulu said the policemen followed the vehicle after they had forgotten to check the back of the van when they initially stopped it.

EMPD officers and officials from the tracking company found the two cops together, near a service station, and arrested them.

The officers were handcuffed.

They were told to get into the marked police vehicles, while the driver was ordered into the tracking company’s vehicle.

Mngomezulu denied that the police officers had been arrested, saying the suggestion of an arrest appeared to have been the result of a misunderstanding between them and the EMPD. - The Star