SANDF soldiers recover hijacked vehicle, illicit cigarettes

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South African National Defence Force (SANDF) soldiers on border protection duty in Limpopo have recovered a hijacked vehicle and seized two cars smuggling illicit cigarettes across the border with Zimbabwe.

Captain Moses Semono reported for Joint Operations Tactical Headquarters Limpopo that soldiers helped recover a bakkie that was hijacked from a local resident in Thohoyandou. The hijackers posed as customers who hired the driver, Sipho Banda, to ostensibly deliver their luggage. Whilst en route, the hijackers pointed a gun at Banda, tied him up and drove towards the Zimbabwe border

After escaping, Banda opened a case with the South African Police Service (SAPS). Whilst busy with foot patrols, members of the Bambatha Rifles, under the command of Lieutenant Colonel Lawrence Ramotsamai, noticed a white bakkie driving into the Limpopo River and followed on foot in an attempt to catch up. The driver panicked when he noticed that he was spotted by the advancing soldiers, thus abandoning the vehicle, which became stuck in the river.

The soldiers called the police, who discovered that the vehicle had been reported stolen that morning. “After recovering his vehicle, which was actually his livelihood as it was his only source of income, Mr Banda came in person to thank our soldiers,” Semono reported.

In other Operation Corona successes, soldiers at Nwanedi Farm near Musina confiscated two Mercedes sedans valued at R70 000 and R75 000 that were being used to transport illicit cigarettes valued at R713 217.

“Both were accosted by the members of the South African National Defence Force right next to Tshamutumbu Police Station in deep rural former Venda homeland. Unfortunately, the suspects managed to escape. The vehicles and illicit cigarettes were handed over to the South African Police Service,” Semono concluded.