Police have arrested three suspects in connection with the torching of trucks on the country’s freeways, while a private security company arrested two suspects on Thursday, one of them the man who was captured on video allegedly torching a truck.
This comes after President Cyril Ramaphosa told Radio 702 in an interview this week that the country’s security forces were well prepared for any potential civil unrest. However, he said the latest torching of trucks on the N2, N3 and N4 in KwaZulu-Natal, Mpumalanga and Limpopo was not linked to the July 2021 civil unrest that led to about 350 deaths and caused R50 billion in damage.
“I am not scared at all. Our security forces are very, very well prepared for anything, so I am comfortable,” Ramaphosa said.
South African Police Service (SAPS) spokesperson Brigadier Athlenda Mathe said a multidisciplinary team tasked with investigating the attacks and burning of trucks had made its first two arrests in Mpumalanga on Thursday morning.
“Two men aged 29 and 27 were arrested at their residence. The first suspect was arrested on a farm in Piet Retief with the assistance of a private security firm and the other in Ermelo. Both suspects face a charge of malicious damage to property,” Mathe said.
She added that police had arrested a third suspect in Emalahleni on Thursday night and police were hot on the heels of further suspects.
SAPS National Commissioner General Fannie Masemola said the net was closing in on those behind the attackers.
“Police are hot on the heels of more suspects, which involves the ring leaders of these sporadic incidents of criminality. Either they hand themselves over or we fetch them ourselves,” said Masemola.
High-density operations continued through roadblocks, stop and searches, and the tracing operations of these wanted suspects, Mathe said.
She added that the suspects were expected to appear in Ermelo Magistrates Court on Monday.
Anti Crime Security Unit (ACSU), a private security company based in Ermelo, said it had arrested two suspects, one of them the suspect who was captured on video forcing a driver out of his truck before squirting flammable liquid in the back of the vehicle and setting it alight, moments before he jumped out.
ACSU investigator Bester Maree said the suspect had been arrested at a house between Wakkerstroom and Piet Retief at 01.30 on Thursday after the company followed up on intelligence received regarding his whereabouts. He said the company had also arrested a second suspect who was charged with malicious damage to property after he allegedly threw rocks at a truck a week ago. Both suspects were handed over to the SAPS at Sheepmoor Police Station.