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Explosives Syndicate Busted in Free State: Key Players Arrested for Supplying Criminals

In a major breakthrough, law enforcement agencies have dismantled a dangerous syndicate operating in the Free State region of South Africa. The group, suspected of selling and providing explosives to criminals, has been linked to a series of high-profile crimes, including cash-in-transit (CIT) heists, ATM bombings, and illegal mining activities.

The Arrest Operation

On Wednesday, a joint operation led by the South African Police Services’ (SAPS) Eastern Cape Crime Intelligence, in collaboration with members of the National Intervention Unit (NIU) from Pretoria and SAPS Free State Explosives section, resulted in the arrest of three men and one woman in Welkom, Free State. These suspects are believed to be key players in the illicit explosives trade. The apprehended suspects were discovered in possession of 40 explosives along with various explosives accessories.

Explosives in Criminal Activities

National police spokesperson Brigadier Athlenda Mathe revealed that the seized explosives were allegedly used in a string of criminal incidents across multiple provinces, including the Free State, Eastern Cape, North West, and Gauteng. The syndicate’s activities posed a significant threat to public safety and security.

The Numbers

During Operation Shanela, authorities confiscated a total of 11,481 explosives through roadblocks, tracing efforts, and stop-and-search operations since May 2023. Additionally, 173 individuals were apprehended during the same period for possessing explosives illegally.

Legal Consequences

The four suspects are scheduled to appear in the Welkom Magistrate’s Court on Friday, facing charges related to contravening the Explosives Act 26 of 1956. Their arrest marks a critical step in curbing the use of explosives in criminal enterprises.

Minister’s Statement

Police Minister Bheki Cele, during the release of quarterly crime statistics, emphasized the impact of these arrests. He confirmed that 75 wanted CIT suspects were apprehended in the past year. The authorities also seized high-caliber firearms, including rifles and AK47s, as well as high-performance vehicles linked to these criminal activities.

As investigations continue, law enforcement agencies remain committed to dismantling criminal networks and ensuring the safety of communities across South Africa. The explosives syndicate’s disruption sends a clear message: those who endanger lives through illegal activities will face the full force of the law.

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