Detectives of the police’s organised crime unit have arrested three men in Pretoria with military illumation grenades stolen last month. The men were between 25 and 43 year old, Beeld newspaper said. The arrests were carried out this week.
One man was arrested in Lyttelton and found in possession of one grenade. The two others were detained in Sinoville and had 10 grenades, police spokesman Colonel Lungelo Dlamini told the paper.
The pyrotechnic grenades stolen from a Rheinmetall Denel Munition (RDM) vehicle in July. Three crates, each containing 35 M9143 illuminating grenades (pictured) were taken, but one crate was recovered by police the next day.
RDM at the time said the devices were stolen from an unbranded truck. “The truck was on its way from RDM in the Western Cape to the Wallmansthal Military Base, north of Pretoria,” CE Norbert Schulze said in a statement. Wallmansthal is home to the SA National Defence Force’s (SANDF) Main Ordnance Depot, among other facilities.
Schulze said RDM was working with the national police as well as Military Police investigating the incident and had also launched an internal investigation to determine the circumstances around the incident.
The Times newspaper and Eyewitness News radio service reported the devices were taken from a padlocked box in the back of the open Toyota bakkie while its driver and co-driver were asleep at the Total Petroport garage on the N1, north of Pretoria. The two men had apparently driven through the night from Cape Town to deliver the devices to the SANDF.
The Times added the driver said he and his assistant were ahead of schedule when they decided to stop and take a nap shortly before 5am. “Before falling asleep, I saw three men walking nearby, but thought they were truck drivers stretching their legs.” He said it was the first time they had stopped at the petrol station. “We were ahead of schedule and not far from our destination, so we decided to sleep. “When we woke up at 6am we saw the container at the back of the bakkie had been broken open and five containers were missing. We heard absolutely nothing while we were asleep,” he said.
A sales brochure notes the M9143 “emits intense white light by the burning action of the pyrotechnic composition. The grenade is used to illuminate targets or target areas during night operations. The grenade consists of a cylindrical aluminium body containing the illuminating composition, a pyrotechnic delay and a spring loaded striker mechanism with a fly-off lever. The fly-off lever is retained by a conventional safety pin and pull ring.
Dlamini says the police investigation continues and more arrests are expected.