Corruption-accused SANDF members to remain behind bars
THE corruption-accused SANDF members arrested at Beitbridge border post for allegedly smuggling stolen cars out of the country are set to remain behind bars following their court appearance.
Rapula Reuben Maidi, Edward Lepokola, Bulelani Danti, Ludwe Gwedashe, Thembani Mjelo, Marks Funeka and Peter Thato Namane appeared in the Musina Magistrate’s Court following their arrests on Monday and Tuesday.
They allegedly connived with smuggling syndicates to get stolen vehicles across the Limpopo River in exchange for money.
“It is further alleged that the suspects would demand R15 000 per vehicle, which would be shared among themselves.
“This also endangers the majority of their honest colleagues,” said police spokesperson Matimba Maluleke.
The accused, aged between 30 and 51, whose military ranks range from lance-corporal to private, were on the radar of the police in North West, the Northern Cape and Free State until they were arrested.
Hawks head Godfrey Lebeya hailed the collaborative efforts by the integrated team which vigorously fought and rooted out corruption in the public and private sectors.
“We certainly hope that our joint team efforts will inspire confidence in the entire public service and the South African community at large,” Lebeya said.
“Those who are entrusted with responsibility to protect and serve must never be tempted by dirty money from organised criminal groups, otherwise the lessons will be learnt the hard way.”
The National Prosecuting Authority said its case had been postponed to June 28 for formal bail applications.
Their arrest came just days after two members of the SANDF, aged 27 and 38, were arrested alongside an undocumented foreign national for allegedly transporting illicit cigarettes in an army vehicle last Friday.
Police at Beitbridge received information about an army vehicle loaded with illicit cigarettes to be delivered to an unidentified buyer near Musina.
They staged a stop-and-search operation next to the Baobab Truck Park along the N1, north of Musina.
“The army vehicle fitting the description given approached and the members pulled it over.
“Two uniformed soldiers and a civilian wearing an army jacket disembarked from the vehicle.
“The vehicle was then searched and 12 boxes of illicit cigarettes to the value of R160 000 were found packed in the back of the vehicle.
“The civilian was immediately arrested but the armed soldiers reportedly became confrontational and refused to be arrested.
“The police then confiscated the vehicle,” said spokesperson Motlafela Mojapelo.
The soldiers were brought to the police station by their commander and detained.
They were charged with possession of illicit cigarettes, defeating the ends of justice and resisting arrest.
The other suspect was charged with impersonating an SANDF member and contravening the Immigration Act.