THE South African Police Services (SAPS) in the Free State Province have arrested six Basotho who were found in possession of illegal firearms and ammunition.
The SAPS told the Sunday Express that three of the suspects were arrested in Excelsior and the other three in Welkom.
It is reported that Shadrack Khutlisi (26), Kotsoane Mongoaketsi (28), and Remaketse Mohlomi (29) appeared in the Excelsior Magistrates’ Court to face charges of the unlawful possession of a firearm and ammunition which they planned to use to rob a shop in Excelsior.
They are expected back in court tomorrow for further remand.
According to the Selosesha Communication, Marketing and Liaison Officer, Sergeant Martin Xuma, “At around 5pm on Sunday 25 February 2018, we received a tip-off from a reliable source who informed us of a plan to rob a local shop in Mahlatswetsa in Excelsior”.
“A team of police officers went to investigate at the suspects’ house, well before the crime was committed.”
He said upon arrival they initiated a search and found in one bag, an unlicensed pistol with ammunition.
“The serial number of the pistol was erased and this leads us to suspect that the gun was stolen for the purpose of illegal activities. Following this recovery and the arrest of the three suspects, we have launched an investigation to establish the origin of the firearm and also to find out whether it can be linked to other armed robbery cases reported in other areas.
“We would like to continue to cooperate closely with the locals to remove illegal guns from the communities and to prevent other crimes that are also prevalent in the area,” he said.
Hawks spokesperson in the Free State, Captain S’fiso Nyakane, also told this publication that three other suspects were arrested on 23 February this year in Welkom and they are still in custody after appearing in court on 26 February.
The Sunday Express understands that the members of the police Tactical Response Team were on routine vehicle patrol on Long Road, St Helena in Welkom on the day when they noticed a suspicious Gauteng registered bakkie.
“Three Lesotho nationals, Pheelo Mahapa (28), Mokotoane Ntsane (34) and Mpeete Mokotjo (25) were arrested in Welkom for possession of unlicensed firearms (two 9mm pistols) whose serial numbers were scratched off and ammunition,” Captain Nyakane said.
“They were arrested on Saturday 23 February 2018 at about 1930 Hours in Welkom. The trio appeared on 26 February 2018 and they were remanded in custody pending a formal bail application which will be heard on 6 March 2018,” he added.