The Mpumalanga police arrested 11 suspects for allegedly stealing chrome worth approximately R5 million from trains on Thursday, 28 April.
South African Police Service (SAPS) spokesperson Brigadier Selvy Mohlala said a crack team of law enforcement agencies conducted a sting operation at 15:00 on Thursday at Self Storage offices in Witbank.
“During the operation at the facilities, a discovery of four facility rooms packed with mining chrome was made.
“The police then arrested the eleven suspects on the premises whilst they were reportedly busy loading chrome into a truck,” said Mohlala.
According to the report, the police’s initial investigation revealed that the arrested suspects were allegedly stealing and smuggling chrome from trains between Ferro Metals Witbank and Richards Bay, KwaZulu-Natal.
The authorities suspect that the chrome was sent to Gauteng in trucks and there it was sold to “certain individuals.”
The suspected “kingpin” of the operation is a woman with a South African identity document – her alleged accomplices are in reportedly in the country illegally. Eight of the men are from Zimbabwe while the remaining two are from Mozambique.
“The police are working in partnership with the department of Home Affairs to determine the status of the woman and also to find out on how she got hold of the Identity Document,” said the police spokesperson.
All the suspects are expected to face charges of illegal possession of mining chrome while 10 of them will be charged with contravention of the Immigration Act.
The investigation continues and more arrests are expected.