'Vehicle smugglers' posing as holidaymakers arrested at picnic spot in Kruger National Park

The suspects, aged 25 and 43, were arrested after stopping at a picnic spot. File photo.
The suspects, aged 25 and 43, were arrested after stopping at a picnic spot. File photo.
Image: Suhaib Salem

Two alleged vehicle smugglers masquerading as holidaymakers on a leisurely drive through the Kruger National Park — to avoid police roadblocks on major routes — ended up as guests behind bars at the “state hotel” on Christmas night.

“It is alleged that after entering the park via Numbi gate with the [intention] of avoiding police operations on the N4, [they] possibly aimed at exiting the park either via Malelane or Komatipoort gates,” said police spokesperson Brig Selvy Mohlala on Monday.

“Feeling freedom at the park, they decided to spend some time at the Afsaal picnic area,  not knowing Tracker has already picked up the signal for one of the vehicles.

“Tracker alerted police and San Park security personnel who intercepted one of the vehicles. Upon interception, the suspect would not go down alone, but he revealed that there was a second stolen vehicle in the picnic area and that led to the arrest of the second suspect.”

The vehicles, Toyota Hilux extended cabs, were reported stolen in Delmas and Daveyton in December and had already been fitted with false registration plates.

The suspects are expected to appear in court on Wednesday for possession of stolen vehicles.

Provincial police commissioner Lt-Gen Semakaleng Manamela hailed the teamwork leading to the arrests and warned criminals they can try to avoid police but can’t hide. “Our members are deployed in all the corners of the province. Tourists and locals' safety will remain our top priority.”


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