By A Correspondent- A Zimbabwean robber has been arrested along with three South Africans for unleashing a reign of terror on motorists using the N1 Highway. The N1 is a major commercial road that links South Africa with its neighbours north of the Limpopo and Zambezi rivers including Angola, DRC, Malawi, Mozambique, Tanzania, Zambia and Zimbabwe.
Limpopo police spokesperson Brigadier Motlafela Mojapelo said the gang would use spikes to immobilise vehicles before robbing motorists of valuables at gunpoint.
He said in response, police launched a sting operation to eliminate the criminals. “Four suspects Brighton Chauke (51), Paul Mudzingwa (47) the Zimbabwean, Tshepiso Relela (32) and Percy Chauke (32) have since been arrested in connection with the highway robberies,” said Brig Mojapelo.
The four appeared at the Mokopane Magistrates Court on Wednesday charged for robbery with aggravating circumstances, possession of firearm and ammunition, and contravention of Immigration Act. They were all remanded in custody to September 17 pending further police investigations.
Brig Mojapelo said a team comprising the Mokopane Crime Prevention, Modimolle Dog Unit, Mokopane CIG, Detectives, Limpopo Tracking Team, Limpopo Provincial investigation unit, and the Heritage Protection Group, successfully tracked down the suspects. He said the suspects were found in possession of spikes packed in a bag, several firearms and ammunition, a vehicle sponsored by the department of social development, a 303 riffle with a sound suppressor, a police reflector jacket, cell phones, watches, router, all-star tekkies, and a laptop.
He said two of the suspects were arrested on Tuesday in Mabopane outside Pretoria. “One was found to be an undocumented foreign national and the other is a volunteer at the victim support centre at Rietgat SAPS. The other two were arrested on Monday 6 September 2021. More arrests are expected,” said Brig Mojapelo. The N1 highway has of late become a den of armed robbers targeting light vehicle motorists, commercial trucks, and cross-border buses.
With respect to Zimbabwean cross-border buses, criminals were now boarding the buses using fake names or stolen Zimbabwean passports pretending to be genuine travellers. After boarding the buses mainly in Pretoria, they then attack the passengers on the stretch between Hammanskraal and Polokwane.
Of late, Zimbabwean cross-border buses have become a target of violent crimes between Pretoria and Polokwane. Over 15 buses have been attacked by armed gangs in the last three years.