A KwaZulu Natal private security firm has arrested 15 suspects for allegedly stealing hundreds of kilograms of copper off a Transnet cargo train near Estcourt.
Magma Security owner, Shaheen Suleiman, said the security firm’s officers had arrested the suspects in a forest in Howick, outside Pietermaritzburg, where they recovered 600kg of stolen copper blisters on Monday.
“During January 2022 a Transnet railway train that was transporting copper blisters was targeted in the Estcourt area. The suspects stopped the train by tampering with the railway signals. During this theft the suspects were throwing off copper blisters from the train. Only when the train reached its destination in Howick was the theft discovered,” Suleiman said.
Suleiman said the firm’s security and investigation officers had located the suspects while they were patrolling the Zwartkop Forest on a district road outside Pietermaritzburg between the forest and the railway line.
“They observed a suspicious bakkie parked in the forest. The members approached the vehicle and the occupants informed them that they were waiting for the women who were collecting firewood,” he said.
However, he said the officers were suspicious of the men and decided to observe the situation from a distance.
“They parked a distance away and entered the forest on foot where they came across 12 males in the forest busy loading copper blister [±600kg] on to a trailer. The officers immediately detained the suspects and called for assistance,” Suleiman said.
He said a second security vehicle then proceeded to the bakkie where officers found three occupants.
“All 15 suspects were detained, and the SAPS were informed. It was established that the copper blister was stolen during the theft which occurred during January from the Transnet train,” Suleiman said.
A heavy-duty trailer and around R600 000-worth of copper blister and seven cellphones were recovered at the scene. The suspects were handed over to the Prestbury SAPS and the vehicles were impounded.