PICS: Armed South African man arrested while transporting 23 undocumented Ethiopians from Zimbabwe
By IOL South Africa
SOUTH AFRICA: Police at Sebayeng in Limpopo have arrested 25 undocumented foreign nationals for contravention of the Immigration Act.
The group of men, aged between 20 and 44 years, were arrested at Solomondale near Polokwane on Saturday.
Provincial spokesperson of the SA Police Service in Limpopo, Colonel Malesela Ledwaba said officers, working in conjunction with private security companies went on an operation after receiving information about a white Toyota Quantum which was driving along the R81 Road in Solomondale.
Police said the Toyota Quantum was from the Beitbridge port of entry linking South Africa with neighbouring Zimbabwe.
The law enforcement team spotted the Toyota Quantum at a filling station along R81 Road in Sebayeng, and upon checking, discovered 23 Ethiopian men, aged between 20 and 38, in the 15-passenger seater minibus.
The driver of the Toyota Quantum was a 44-year-old South African man.
“Preliminary investigations revealed that all the passengers in the said Quantum were illegally smuggled into South Africa from Ethiopia through Zimbabwe,” said Ledwaba.
“It is reported that while in the process of searching in the Toyota Quantum and the passengers, they (police) saw a white motor vehicle, a Toyota Fortuner which stopped at the scene being driven by a male foreign national.”
The driver of the Toyota Fortuner allegedly offered the police R5,000 “to let the Toyota Quantum with the passengers go free” and was subsequently arrested.
The driver of the Toyota Fortuner was charged for bribery.
“It is reported that the driver of the Toyota Quantum was found in possession of a licensed firearm, and it was confiscated for investigation purposes,” said Ledwaba.
The arrested drivers are facing charges of human trafficking, bribery, and contravention of Immigration Act.
Acting provincial commissioner of police in Limpopo Major General Jan Scheepers hailed the law enforcement teams “for their commitment and alertness”.
The arrested 25 men are expected to appear before Mankweng Magistrate’s Court on Monday.
In November, IOL reported that a 33-year-old man was arrested by police in Mpumalanga after 23 foreign nationals – Pakistani and Bangladeshi nationals – believed to have been trafficked into South Africa were found packed in his vehicle, a Toyota Quantum.
An intelligence-driven “disruptive operation” was conducted by the SAPS Nelspruit-based crime intelligence and highway patrol units along the N4 and R38 roads.
At the time, spokesperson for the Directorate for Priority Crime Investigation, also known as the Hawks, Captain Dineo Sekgotodi said the police operation followed information that was received from “a reliable source” about a white Toyota Quantum transporting passengers suspected to be undocumented foreign nationals.
The Toyota Quantum taxi was spotted by police on the R38 Road, in the area of Kaapmuiden.