Military Police and the Hawks have arrested two suspects in connection with last weekend’s theft of arms and ammunitions from the SA Navy Armament Depot (SANAD) in Simon’s Town.
This is according to SA National Defence Force (SANDF) Director: Corporate Communication, Brigadier General Xolani Mabanga, who said the “collaborative and speedy response” by military law enforcement working alongside the SA Police Service’s Directorate for Priority Crime Investigation (DPCI) saw the arrests effected and the stolen military equipment recovered.
When the suspects, who apparently trespassed and then illegally accessed the armament store, were arrested they took the law enforcement officers to where the “stolen military equipment” was stored.
“All the stolen equipment was recovered,” Mabanga said but did not give any details of specific items. Reports earlier in the week had it that assault rifles, grenades and machine guns were stolen and apparently removed from the naval base in a military vehicle.
He did not say if the suspects were either SA Navy or SANDF members adding the investigation was ongoing and “and it may lead to more arrests”.
The Hawks said they made a breakthrough in the case on Wednesday. Eyewitness News reported Hawks’ spokesperson Lloyd Ramovha saying on Thursday: “We can confirm that an overnight blitz by the Hawks and crime intelligence has resulted in the arrest of two suspects aged 18 and 26 early on Thursday morning for their suspected involvement in the naval base burglary over the weekend.” Hawks Head Berning Ntlemeza said hand grenades, firearms and ammunition were recovered. However, conflicting reports suggest that not all of the equipment has been recovered.
Western Cape provincial community safety MEC Dan Plato told the Daily Voice that “I don’t believe it.”
“How can they say they recovered that massive load of equipment so quickly? I hope they are not dangling a carrot in front of people’s noses. It is my understanding that some of those guns are already in gangsters’ hands.”
Plato was reported as saying earlier the week this was the third burglary/theft incident at Naval Base Simon’s Town, which is fleet headquarters, this year. A burglary on March 30 apparently also saw firearms stolen. Media enquiries at that time were not responded to by either the Navy or the SANDF although a Cape Town daily reported “a source in the military police confirmed the matter was being investigated”.
The base is also home to the dockyard, a National Key Point, and the Institute for Maritime Technology (IMT).