One of the suspects arrested in connection with the break-in at the SA Navy Armament Depot (SANAD) in Simon’s Town is the son of a former employee.
This revelation comes as Community Safety MEC Dan Plato said that he had information that the same depot had been robbed in March, and that the stolen weapons were “in gangsters’ hands” already.
Although the investigation is still ongoing, the South African National Defence Force confirmed that all the items stolen at the weekend, including machine guns and hand grenades, have been recovered.
Two suspects, aged 18 and 26, were nabbed in Military Road, Steenberg, early yesterday morning.
SANDF spokesperson Brigadier General Xolani Mabanga says more arrests may follow.
“One of the suspects’ fathers used to work for the Navy,” he tells the Daily Voice.
“After their arrest, these suspects led the Military Police and Hawks to where the stolen military equipment was stored. All the stolen equipment was recovered,” Mabanga adds.
A police source told the Daily Voice the stolen equipment included four 9mm Uzzi machine guns, 72 high explosive grenades, one R1 rifle and one M1 rifle.
The robbery happened between Friday and Monday when brazen thieves broke into six stores by cutting off the locks at the armament depot in Klawer Road, Simon’s Town.
A worker at a nearby construction site said two bakkies were spotted in the area during the time of the robbery.
Hawks spokesperson Captain Lloyd Ramovha also confirmed the arrests.
“The suspects are expected to appear in court soon. The investigations continues,” he adds.
Plato, however, says he does not believe all the guns and ammunition were recovered.
Although he welcomed the swift arrests, Plato says the SANDF was forced to give people “a false sense of relief” after being put under the media spotlight.
“I don’t believe it,” Plato tells the Daily Voice.
“How can they say they recovered that massive load of equipment so quickly? I hope they are not dangling a carrot in front of people’s noses. It is my understanding that some of those guns are already in gangsters’ hands.”
He added: “Urgent clarity is required from Minister Mapisa-Nqakula as to how the Naval Base, a National Key Point, could have been robbed.
“More specifically, I am asking her how criminals could gain access to the premises, gain access to six weapon storages, walk out with numerous weapons and ammunition, without any of these breaches in security being detected?”
He said this was not the first time that a base under the custodianship of Mapisa-Nqakula had been breached and weapons stolen.
In August 2015, the Tempe Military Base was also robbed.”