The 10-member syndicate, which was arrested for allegedly selling commercial explosives, will appear in court this morning.
The suspects were arrested in a Hawks joint operation which was conducted on Tuesday evening in the Free State towns of Thabong, Odendalsrust, Virginia and Teunissen following four months of intense investigation.
The 10 suspects, aged between 28 and 46, are alleged to have been supplying criminal syndicates with explosives commonly used to bomb ATMs, cash-in-transit vehicles and vaults for cash at institutions other than the banks. Three of the suspects are police officers.
The Hawks say a series of transactions was conducted with the suspects, wherein undercover members bought a substantial amount of explosives.
The group is expected to appear before the Fochville and Virginia Magistrate’s Courts today.
Investigations are continuing, with more arrests expected to follow soon.
The acting National Head of the Hawks, Lieutenant General Yolisa Matakata, said the group arrest is a victory, as it means police teams were committed to toppling the syndicate that has been operating for years.
Matakata also expressed her disappointment at the arrest of the three police officers, saying breaking the very laws they were sworn to uphold is absolutely not acceptable.
“These arrests are indicative of the effectiveness of collaboration between law enforcement agencies in the fight against organised criminal behaviour.
“Our multidisciplinary approach has further demonstrated the ability of law enforcement agencies to work together to investigate, prosecute and disrupt organised criminal groups,” said Matakata.
Police Minister Fikile Mbalula has congratulated the Hawks on this arrest.
“We are squeezing the space for criminals. The… Hawks, together with the Independent Police Investigative Directorate (IPID), is hard at work in rooting out crime and corruption in our society,” said Minister Mbalula.
The Minister said a second phase of the investigation will deal with the origin of the explosives and possible links to any crimes related to the use of explosives.