Thupeyo Muleya Beitbridge Bureau
South Africa’s specialised crime unit, the Hawks have arrested the eighth soldier (30) involved in a syndicate run by military men in that country that abets the smuggling of stolen vehicles into Zimbabwe via the Limpopo River.
The Hawks and other members of the security cluster are running an ongoing sting operation “Night Vigil” targeting security agents linked to criminal activities along the border with their northern neighbour.
Seven other members were arrested between May and June after having been put on the radar for three years since 2017.
Hawks spokesperson for Limpopo, Captain Matimba Maluleke said Private Valentine Sedimosang Phetoe appeared at the Musina magistrate court on Thursday where he was granted R3000 bail.
He said the matter was postponed to October 25 where he will be joining his seven co-accused.
“The 30-year-old member of the South Africa National Defence Force was arrested on September 15, in Northern Cape,” said Capt Maluleke.
“This brings to eight the total number of SANDF members arrested in relation to cross-border crimes under the project dubbed “Night Vigil.”
The other accused persons who include two Lance Corporals and five privates were arrested in Free State, Northern Cape and North West provinces on 21 June 2021 during a sting operation between the Hawks, National Intervention Unit and SANDF members.”
He said the gang committed the offence during their deployment to the border with Zimbabwe between 2017 and 2019.
The official said the allegations were that during their deployment period, they connived with vehicle smuggling syndicates to smuggle stolen vehicles through the Limpopo River in exchange for money.
He said they allegedly collected R15 000 per vehicle from the smugglers and would share the proceeds among themselves.