South Africa’s Directorate for Priority Crime Investigation, better known as Hawks, have arrested four soldiers, including a colonel, in a conspiracy case linked to illegal mining.
The colonel, warrant officer and two corporals will appear before a judge on Monday.
Hawks spokesperson Capt Lloyd Ramovha said the quartet were arrested on Friday, 4 December 2020.
Ramovha said the four were initially detained and released in August for conspiracy to commit crime, fraud and trespassing at an illegal mining hotspot at Kudu Shaft, Welkom after they were found on the premises of the privately-owned mine on July 6.
“The court subsequently released them based on insufficient evidence,” said Ramovha.
“The Hawks serious organised crime investigation unit persisted despite the initial hiccup. The unyielding probe has since revealed that at the time of the alleged offence the group, that was clad in full military uniform, was supposed to be on duty at their bases in Pretoria and Kroonstad respectively.”
Ramovha said a private firearm in possession of one of the soldiers alerted investigators to a possible crime.
“Primarily what raised suspicion was that one of them had his private firearm with him and they were using a private vehicle affixed with SANDF plates with its licence disc removed,” said Ramovha.
“They have been rounded up today on warrants of arrest at their respective bases. All four are expected to appear before the Welkom magistrate’s court on Monday.”