Michele du Plessis
“During the past nine weeks, we had 20 SAPS case numbers registered, we’ve arrested 78 suspects, impounded 11 trucks, 4 interlink trucks, confiscated 2 firearms and recovered 9 chainsaws that were taken by force from contract workers in the plantations,” said Captain Erick Swanepoel, Phoenix Security, Operations Manager.
In one incident, Captain Swanepoel and his team, Hendry Mashaba and Moshe Sebashe, was on a routine patrol in the SAFCOL plantation on the Bergvliet/Hazyview road at approximately 21H00. “We saw the tracks of a truck and there were markers that showed the truck where to go. We watched the truck for a while and the suspects loaded mining timber unto the truck. During that time, we notified the Sabie SAPS and explained what was happening. The police arrived at the scene but had to leave again. Captain Frank Holier and his team came to assist in the apprehension of the suspects.
We apprehended 12 suspects, with the driver included, and they were taken to the Sabie police station where they were charged with theft and the truck impounded,” Captain Swanepoel said.
In a second incident, Phoenix received a call from the Sabie SAPS in connection with a vehicle and two suspects that were wanted in connection with armed robbery. The said vehicle was apparently travelling on the Sabie – White River road. “In this case, we assisted the Sabie police in apprehending the black VW with the two suspects. Two of the police vehicles were in front of the vehicle and one police vehicle behind them. As they were driving and trying to escape, the two suspects were throwing cell phones and a weapon from the moving vehicle.
After the vehicle was forced to a standstill, the two suspects were arrested. They were charged with armed robbery, and are suspects in recent incidents at Brondal and Spitzkop Village and various other cases in this area.
On Wednesday, July 23rd, Phoenix apprehended 8 suspects at Hendriksdal in the York plantation. “The truck had approximately 120 lengths of railway tracks to a value of R80 000 on it. The truck driver said they came from Johannesburg to cut and load the tracks. We confiscated gas bottles and cutting torches that were handed over to the Sabie police when they arrived. The suspects were charged with theft and the truck impounded at the police station,” Captain Swanepoel said.
Also on July 23rd, Lieutenant Selepe Maphuti, Phoenix Security, Graskop, phoned Captain Swanepoel and asked for assistance in apprehending suspects in the York plantation. “When we arrived in the plantation, we asked the truck driver what he was doing and he said that they were harvesting black wattle. The wood on the truck was eucalyptus or what we call mining timber. The supervisor/truck driver then produced an expired permit for harvesting in the SAFCOL plantations.
We searched the maroon Ford Ranger bakkie that was on the scene and we found two firearms behind the seat; a 303 and a 9mm pistol. The supervisor said it was his firearms but he had no license for it. We also recovered two chainsaws that were reported as stolen and cell phones. When the Graskop police arrived, I immediately showed them the weapons. At the police station, the supervisor/driver of the vehicle was charged with malicious damage and theft. The other suspects were let go by the Graskop police,” Captain Swanepoel concluded.