'We arrested 10 of them': Cops swoop on Malamulele police station robbers wanted for alleged crime spree

R5 rifles, pistols, shotguns and ammunition seized

Malamulele police station in Limpopo.
Malamulele police station in Limpopo.
Image: Supplied/SAPS

Ten suspects linked to a November 2021 robbery at the Malamulele police station in Limpopo have been arrested.

Provincial police commissioner Lt-Gen Thembi Hadebe and her management on Thursday gave an update on the progress of an investigation into the incident and other crimes committed in the Vhembe district and further afield in the province.

“We arrested 10 of them and we are still looking at others as their associates. There is more we need to collect,” said Hadebe.

Hadebe said the suspects, aged 30 to 48, would soon appear at magistrate's courts in the province and in Mpumalanga.

“They are facing charges of unlawful possession of firearms and ammunition, explosives, conspiracy to commit crimes, attempted murder, murder, robbery with aggravating circumstances, carjackings and attack on the Malamulele police station,” she said.

A gang of heavily armed gunmen robbed the police station on November 21 of R5 rifles, 9mm pistols, shotguns and ammunition.

They also robbed nearby garages.

Hadebe said the suspects stole R16,000 in petty cash, collected bail money, and other prisoners' property and money that was kept at the community service centre.

“On the same day we collected nine solid cases that were committed on that particular day when they were committing their crime. They were shooting at any vehicle that was passing by and several vehicles were shot and attempted murder cases were opened,” she said.

She said on January 19 the investigation team arrested a number of suspects.

“The first suspects were found in one of the hideouts at Kgapane, under the police precinct of Bolebedu outside Tzaneen in the Mopani district. The other three were arrested at a lodge outside the province near Bushbuckridge. This came after a tip-off that the suspects were intending to commit ATM bombings in Mpumalanga .”

Hadebe said preliminary investigations had linked the suspects to several ATM bombings and armed robberies in the province.

“I can safely say in total the cases that these people will be linked with, for Mopane district is 27 cases, Vhembe 17 cases, Capricorn 26 cases, Waterberg 14 cases, and their powerhouse was Sekhukhune with 33 cases,” she said.

She said a range of different crimes were allegedly committed.

“In one of the cases as they did their shooting spree, they shot at a person who was there at the wrong place at the wrong time and ultimately succumbed. There is a murder case. These cases are very serious cases and as police, we will leave no stone unturned,” said Hadebe.

Hadebe said they had also recovered firearms from the suspects.

“We have recovered four R5s, four shotguns, three pistols ... There was also ammunition that was found, almost 10 bulletproofs [bulletproof vests] that were found from these different thugs. There were also cartridges used for the blasting of the ATMS and cigarettes stolen,” she said.

She said cash and security uniforms used at the different crime scenes were also found.

“We confiscated a Toyota bakkie and Mercedes-Benz used in a number of crimes that have been committed.”

Hadebe said the recovery of the firearms was important as police feared they would be used to commit more crime and cause casualties.

“When thugs enter a police station what message does it [send] to the community? It increases the fear of not feeling safe, it also weakens the badge,” added Hadebe.

TimesLIVE


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