During the farm robberies the suspects allegedly used Sellotape to bind their victims’ hands and in one incident allegedly tortured a 76-year old woman with pliers.
According to KZN SAPS spokesperson Colonel Jay Naicker, the arrests followed a “six-hour multidisciplinary operation” in the early hours of 28 February. In a joint operation by SAPS Camperdown, the Pietermaritzburg Tactical Response Team, the city’s SAPS K9 Unit, and members of the Magma Security and Investigations company, pounced on the suspects in the Sankontshe area of Mpumalanga township in KZN.
Items reportedly confiscated by the KZN SAPS during the arrests included an unlicensed 9mm pistol, 9mm and 7.65mm ammunition and Sellotape.
“It is alleged that a large group of armed suspects would confront victims at their homes in the Camperdown, Cato Ridge and Killarney Valley areas and demand cash as well as firearms,” said Naicker. “The suspects would then assault the victims and tie them up with cellotape before fleeing with their loot.”
The arrested suspects are aged between 22 and 26 years old. They are expected to appear in the Camperdown Magistrate’s Court on 3 March, where they will face charges of armed robbery.
Koos Marais of the KZN Agricultural Union’s Security Desk expressed delight at the news of the arrests. However, he urged the police to step up visible policing in rural areas in efforts to prevent farm attacks and other crimes.
He also cautioned the farming community to be especially vigilant as the 7 May general election loomed closer.
“In the run-up to the election many political promises will be made that are impossible to deliver on,” said, Marais. “These raise expectations in communities and could lead to frustration when they are not delivered on. These frustrations might then be taken out on farming communities. Farmers must immediately bring cases like this to our attention.”