Police uncover alleged CIT ring, arrest four suspects

Police have arrested four suspects believed to be a syndicate selling explosives for cash-in-transit crimes in Welkom, Free State this week.

Police have arrested four suspects believed to be a syndicate selling explosives for cash-in-transit crimes in Welkom, Free State this week.

Published Feb 23, 2024


Police have made a breakthrough in what is believed to be a syndicate allegedly selling and supplying explosives used in cash-in-transit (CIT) armed robberies, ATM bombings and illegal mining.

The four are expected to appear before the Welkom Magistrate’s Court on Friday on charges relating to contravening the Explosives Act 26 of 1956.

The three men and a woman were arrested in Welkom, Free State, during a tracing operation by SAPS Eastern Cape Crime Intelligence, members of the National Intervention Unit (NIU) from Pretoria, as well as SAPS Free State Explosives section on Wednesday.

They were found with 40 explosives and a number of explosives accessories, said police spokesperson Athlenda Mathe.

She said the suspects are believed to be involved in a number of cases where explosives were used in committing ATM bombings, CITs and illicit mining in the Free State, Eastern Cape, North West and Gauteng.

“Through Operation Shanela, police have seized 11 481 explosives during roadblocks, tracing as well as stop-and-search operations since May 2023. 173 suspects have also been arrested during the same period for the illegal possession of explosives,” said Mathe.

Their arrest came days after two suspects, who were on the list of most wanted suspects in connection with inter-provincial CIT robberies, house robberies and farm attacks were shot and killed in a shoot-out with police in Verulam, Durban last Saturday.

They were among the 15 suspects who allegedly attempted to kill Tactical Response Team (TRT) members during a foiled CIT robbery in Nkandla, Durban in August 2019.

The very same suspects were later arrested but absconded from court after they were released on bail, said police spokesperson Robert Netshiunda.

On Saturday, the TRT, along with the Hawks and private security officers, acted on intelligence and intercepted the suspects’ vehicle on Jabu Ngcobo Drive. Upon realising the police presence, the suspects reportedly opened fire at the officers.

“Police retaliated and a shoot-out ensued. After the shoot-out, two suspects were found to have sustained fatal gunshot wounds. One suspect narrowly evaded arrest and fled from the scene in possession of a rifle.”

Police were still searching for him.

A firearm was found in the possession of the deceased suspects.

Presenting the third quarter crime stats from October 1 to December 31 2023 last Friday, Police Minister Bheki Cele said the specialised teams put in place in each province were yielding results in ensuring that there was a reduction in the number of CIT armed robberies.

Police recovered 40 explosives and a number of explosives accessories.

“During this period, 46 CIT armed robberies took place which is 11 counts lower than the previous crime reporting period.

“In the past year, more than 75 wanted CIT suspects have been arrested during takedown operations.

“High-calibre firearms including rifles and AK47s as well as high performance vehicles that were used in the commission of these crimes were seized,” he said.

Cape Times