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Pretoria - A project-driven investigation by the Directorate for Priority Crime Investigations' (Hawks) national bureau of illegal firearms control and priority violent crimes, together with police crime intelligence, has led to the arrest of eight suspects allegedly linked to recent cash-in-transit heist cases in Katlehong and Meyerton in Gauteng, the Hawks said on Sunday.

Five of the men - Thandwangubazi Mvelase, 35, Nokulunga Ntombela, 33, Lungisa Mdlolo, 35, Ntengazi Mdlolo, 40, and Sandile Mhlungu, 29 - had already appeared in the Protea, Vereeniging, and Nigel magistrate's courts respectively on Friday. "Unfortunately, the case against the other three suspects was provisionally withdrawn," Brigadier Hangwani Mulaudzi said.

The operation by a multidisciplinary team comprising of the Gauteng Hawks, police crime intelligence members from Kwazulu–Natal, Limpopo, and Gauteng, the Mpumalanga tracing team, and the Gauteng flying squad started early on Thursday morning in Jabavu, Soweto in Johannesburg, he said. 

Two suspects, Mvelase and Ntombela, were arrested and the team allegedly found two AK 47 rifles, two police bulletproof vests, lots of ammunition, and cash.

The team went on to Orange Farm in Johannesburg and arrested Mhlungu. He was allegedly found with a pump action shotgun, a pistol, a hand grenade, and ammunition. The pistol was linked to a theft of a firearm case in the same area.

The operation proceeded to Duduza and Vosloorus hostels on the East Rand, where the two Mdlolos were arrested. Lungisani Mdlolo was the first to be detained in Duduza and he was allegedly found with a revolver. Cosmos Mdlolo was next to be arrested and he was allegedly found with an AK 47 and a pistol, Mulaudzi said.

It was established that Lungisani Mdlolo allegedly escaped from lawful custody at Palm Ridge Magistrate's Court in 2014 after he was found guilty of murder, armed robbery with aggravated circumstances, and rape.

The operation culminated with the arrest of three other suspects, also in Vosloorus, where the team allegedly seized an AK 47 with six magazines with ammunition. Their case had since been provisionally withdrawn pending further investigations. The five remaining suspects were expected to appear again in the respective courts on Monday, Mulaudzi said.

African News Agency (ANA)