A recent sting operation during has resulted in 79 suspects being arrested in terms of the Contravention of Critical Infrastructure Protection Act and other related cases, the South African Police Service (SAPS) in Mpumalanga.
“Police in Mpumalanga continue to clamp down on criminals vandalising essential infrastructure in mines and state-owned power utility Eskom, which had left the surrounding community without electricity,” SAPS Mpumalanga spokesperson, Brigadier Leonard Hlathi said in a statement.
Mpumalanga SAPS provincial commissioner, Lt-Gen Mondli Zuma had issued a statement in February about 114 suspects being arrested on various charges, including trespassing, possession of suspected stolen property, contravention of the Disaster Management Act regulations by failing to observe the Covid-19 curfew, as well as contraventions of the Illegal Immigration Act.
In the main, these suspects were Zimbabwean and Mozambican nationals, he said.
“However, these suspects continue with their illegal activities, wreaking havoc. Police are also relentless in their efforts to bring the suspects’ illegal activities to an end. At times, the suspects are acting dangerously, as several police and mine vehicles have been shot [at]. One police officer was robbed of her firearm,” Hlathi said.
“The actions of these suspects prompted police to conduct a sting operation between Monday 1 and Thursday 4 March 2021, at which 79 suspects were arrested for Contravention of Critical Infrastructure Protection Act and other related cases,” he said.
The arrested suspects, aged between 18 and 61, were alleged to have illegally entered Goedhoop mine premises in Blinkpan near Middelburg, stolen items, and further vandalised the mine’s infrastructure.
Police confiscated 20 vehicles during the arrest of the suspects, who had already appeared in the Middelburg Magistrates’ Court where they were granted R1000 bail each. The latest seizure of vehicles brought the total to over 80.
“The police management have indicated that such lawlessness will not be tolerated and operations around these affected areas will continue to be intensified,” said Hlathi.