SANDF soldier arrested for possession of unlicensed weaponry

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The “swift arrest” of a soldier by Bloemfontein police in connection with the apparent theft of military arms and ammunition was welcomed by Minister Thandi Modise’s Department of Defence (DoD).

The suspect, according to DoD Head of Communication (HOC) Siphiwe Dlamini, is a SA National Defence Force (SANDF) member resident in Brandwag, an affluent residential neighbourhood of leafy streets lined with low-rise houses in the Free State capital.

The soldier was arrested last week (23 August) following what a Dlamini statement said was “operationalisation” of information from “a registered source”.

Free State police spokesperson Sgt 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.