The SANDF has denied claims that one of its soldiers, who was brutally murdered in his vehicle this week, was part of Operation Lockdown. Picture: Henk Kruger/African News Agency (ANA)

Cape Town - The SANDF has denied claims that one of its soldiers, who was brutally murdered in his vehicle this week, was part of Operation Lockdown deployed to the Western Cape.

This follows a report by MEC for Community Safety Albert Fritz that the 41-year-old officer was part of the group deployed to the province to bring stability to crime-riddled communities.

The officer’s severely burnt body was discovered along Silversands Road near Blue Downs in the boot of his state vehicle. The gruesome discovery was made after the City of Cape Town’s Fire and Rescue Services from Mfuleni and Kuils River stations were called to the scene to put out a fire in the early hours of Sunday morning. On Friday, Fritz issued a statement condemning the murder.

“I call on SAPS to work in an integrated manner to firstly determine whether this was a gang-related murder and secondly to ensure the arrest, conviction and incarceration of gang leaders who may have given the directive to kill an SANDF soldier.

“The SANDF have been deployed to assist us in safeguarding the province and we must do everything in our power to support them in this regard,” he said.

However, SANDF spokesperson Brigadier- General Mafi Mgobozi confirmed to Weekend Argus that the soldier was not part of the specialised team deployed to the province.

“We saw the statement by the MEC and were wondering where he got that information because that member was stationed at one of the military bases and was not part of Operation Lockdown,” he said.

While the motive behind the murder was yet to the established, Mgobozi said the officer had been missing since August 16.

“Reasons for this painful act are not yet known and the SANDF is in constant liaison with Mfuleni SAPS who are investigating the circumstances that led to this incident,” he added.

Theodore Loggenberg, who was arrested shortly after the discovery of the vehicle and charged with murder, kidnapping and hijacking, is expected back at the Blue Downs Magistrate’s Court on Thursday.

Talks of an arrest of a second 24-year-old suspect on Tuesday appear to form part of the bizarre circumstances around this case, as no record of him appearing in court on Thursday or Friday exist. Suspects detained by police are meant to appear in court within 48 hours of their arrest or be released without being formally charged in court.

Spokesperson for the National Prosecuting Authority Eric Ntabazalila said to date, only one suspect had appeared in court in connection with the incident.

Weekend Argus