Limpopo cop arrested for cash van attack alongside 1,500 other crime suspects

A 34-year-old police sergeant attached to the Tshilwavhusiku police station is one of the 1,554 people arrested for various crimes committed in Limpopo over the past week.

The sergeant, who is also a detective, was arrested on Sunday morning, together with a security officer, for armed robbery and conspiracy to commit robbery after an incident at a petrol station in Madombidzha on 13 August.

According to provincial police spokesperson Brigadier Motlafela Mojapelo, the sergeant was positively linked to the incident following thorough police investigations.

"During this armed robbery, three security guards transporting cash arrived at this filling station and one alighted from the vehicle before offloading the money. He was suddenly accosted by one suspect [the police sergeant] armed with a firearm, who disarmed him of his service pistol.

"Another group of about eight suspects emerged and started shooting at the cash van. The suspects thereafter fled in a silver Toyota Hilux. A security guard aged 37 was later arrested in connection with the incident," Mojapelo said.

All the other people were arrested during coordinated joint operations conducted in all districts across the province between 24 August and 31 August and resulted in the recovery of firearms and vehicles and the confiscation of dagga, liquor and illicit cigarettes.

The teams comprised members from various units and the operations were conducted jointly with traffic officers and members of South African National Defence Force (SANDF).

The suspects arrested are facing charges ranging from murder, rape, sexual assault, stock theft, possession of unlicensed firearms, possession of dagga and dealing in drugs, possession of suspected stolen property, robbery, assault, burglary, theft, malicious damage to property and shoplifting.

The rest of the charges are driving under the influence of alcohol, public drinking, possession of illicit cigarettes, illegal immigration, possession of dangerous weapons, possession of suspected stolen motor vehicles, road traffic offences and the contravention of the regulations under the Disaster Management Act.

Mojapelo added that police were able to recover 12 firearms, 126,443 illicit cigarettes, 32kg of dagga, 32 grams of nyaope, 56 knives, three vehicles and some liquor. Other stolen property included groceries, building material, cellphones, cattle, a large amount of cash, computers, laptops, printers and a motor vehicle battery.

"In another incident, members of the stock theft unit managed to arrest two more suspects believed to be part of a stock theft syndicate operating across the province. On Thursday, five suspects aged between 27 and 35 were arrested in Bela-Bela after they were caught transporting suspected stolen cattle.

"Further investigations were conducted and two other suspects aged 32 and 56 were arrested in Mokopane and R31,100 in cash, seven cattle and a bakkie with a trailer were confiscated. The cattle were reported stolen at Gedroogte village in Zebediela and were returned to the lawful owner."

The police officer Ramarumo Tshifhiwa and his alleged accomplice appeared in the Tshilwavhusiku Magistrate's Court on Monday on charges of armed robbery and conspiracy to commit armed robbery. He will be remanded in custody until 3 September for a formal bail application. His alleged accomplice, Matome Rathidili, was granted bail of R5,000.

All the other suspects have been appearing before different magistrates' courts in the province.

Provincial police commissioner Lieutenant-General Nneke Ledwaba has commended all the members for conducting "well-coordinated" operations.

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