Michele du Plessis
On December 20th, 2019, Captain Erick Swanepoel and Hendry Mashaba from Phoenix Flying Squad apprehended suspects in the Blystaande Plantation near Sudwala Caves that had 8 cycads in their possession.
“We saw the men in the plantation and, as we came closer, they ran away. We caught two of the men. They had 8 cycads between the two of them. We arrested them and brought them to Sabie police station. Nature Conservation is investigating the case.”
Charges against the suspects: Charge 1: The suspect was found in possession of a listed species of the genus Encephalartos (cycads) without a permit; Charge 2: The suspected illegally performed a prohibited activity by collecting and or removing a threatened specimen of the Encephalartos species from the wild: Penalty per charge: 10 million rand or ten months or both such fine and penalty.
Six poachers were apprehended in the London Plantation near Graskop. “When the poachers saw us, they threw the carcasses from the bakkie. We took the poachers to Graskop Police Station and they were charged with poaching. We went back and we found a bush pig that they had killed with pangas,” Captain Swanepoel said.
A man was apprehended at the TTC Village, Tweefontein. “He had a permit book from a lumber company in Sabie for eucalyptus trees found in his possession. He is a Bell operator for a contractor at said company and had the permit book for two weeks. He sold the permits for between R200 to R800 per permit. When we asked him why he did that, he said that he needed the money. He was charged with fraud.”
A stolen truck loaded with train tracks was confiscated in the Spitzkop Plantation. “We saw the flat-bed truck and trailer in the plantation and we investigated. The suspects were busy unloading the trailer as the truck was stuck with the one front wheel in a hole. The truck was loaded with approximately 25 tons of railway tracks, cut into 2m lengths.
There were no registration disk nor number plates on the truck, so we traced the VIN. The truck was reported stolen in July 2019 and was last seen with a load of cement in Polokwane. The truck is being guarded by Spoornet guards and the detectives are investigating the case,” Captain Swanepoel said.
A white Toyota double cab SAPS vehicle was stolen at Densa and was recovered by Phoenix in less than 12 hours. “On our way from Nelspruit to Sabie, close to the Brooklands turn-off, we saw tire tracks over the grass going into the plantation. We found the vehicle where they had tried to camouflage it with branches. The dashboard was destroyed, presumably in their search for a tracking device. The single police stars on magnets were removed, as well as the blue lights.
All the personal and important documents of the officer were recovered. The forensic team was at the crime scene and the case is being investigated,” Captain Swanepoel concluded.