Man arrested for impersonating SANDF soldier

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A 32-year-old man has been arrested for impersonating a South African National Defence Force (SANDF) soldier as well as being in possession of unlicensed firearms and ammunition, days after a similar incident.

The South African Police Service (SAPS) on 28 August said the man was taken into custody on the evening of 27 August in Mokopane. Crime prevention unit officers “were conducting routine patrols when they came across a suspicious-looking man wearing SANDF uniform, driving a silver Toyota Corolla along Mokopane main road. They stopped him and asked him to identify himself. The man was unable to identify himself or provide proof of him being a member of the SANDF or give the details of his superiors,” the SAPS said.

The police searched his vehicle and found in his possession two unlicensed firearms, a pellet gun, two empty magazines, and a military uniform.

He was subsequently arrested and charged and was due to appear before the Mokopane regional Court on 29 August on charges of impersonating a SANDF member and possession of unlicensed firearms.

The Provincial Commissioner of the South African Police Service in Limpopo, Lieutenant General Thembi Hadebe, commended the team for their vigilance. She further reiterated that, “crime will not be tolerated or go unpunished and people should know that wearing military uniform without authority is a punishable offense.”

Several days before this arrest, on 23 August, police in Bloemfontein arrested a soldier in connection with the apparent theft of military arms and ammunition. Free State police spokesperson Sergeant Mahlomola Kareli said a police tactical response team quickly acted on information about a person in possession of an unlicensed firearm at a block of flats on Brandwag’s Nelson Mandela Drive. “On arrival at one of the units, a male person aged 31 was arrested after police found an antique rifle, a stun grenade, 60 R5 live ammunition pieces, five empty R5 rifle magazines and three empty R1 rifle magazines tucked away under a bag in the bedroom.”

He is suspected of stealing firearms and ammunition from an unnamed site on the Tempe military base and allegedly selling these to “unknown individuals of the public”. He was charged with possession of unlicensed firearm and ammunition, possession of a hand grenade as well as possession of an SAPS uniform cap. All items are estimated to have a value of R90 000.

The arrest drew comment from SANDF Chief, Genera Rudzani Maphwanya, who is reported as saying that no acts of criminality will go unpunished in the SANDF.