Brazen steel thieves arrested as containers loaded for China

2011-05-10 00:00

LENGTHS of railway track, sleepers, sections of petrol pipeline and city manhole covers worth at least R1 million were seized in two scrapyards in Pietermaritzburg, while 15 people, including foreign nationals, were arrested yesterday morning.

Police spokesperson Warrant Officer Joey Jeevan estimated that the seized goods are worth more than R1 million.

A Chinese man, believed to be a director of the one of the yards, attempted to bribe Warrant Officer Curt Roger, a member of Mountain Rise crime prevention unit. Initially the man promised R10 000, but later dropped the bribe to R5 000.

Roger said the man pushed the banknotes into his pocket.

Mountain Rise station commissioner Francis Bantham hailed Roger’s integrity.

“Today is the turning point for Mountain Rise police station. The man tried to bribe my officer, but he did not take it,” said Bantham.

The operation was conducted at PPL Scrap Metal and Recycling in Lincoln Road, Woodlands, and at Midlands Scrap Yard in Hoosen Haffejee Street at about 10 am.

At PPL, whose owner is thought to be in China, metal was found packed in two containers that were due to be shipped to China yesterday at about 11 am. The suspects arrested at PPL were six Chinese and five Malawians. The owner of Midlands Scrap Yard is among those arrested. Two shipping containers filled with metal were found in his yard. The raids followed a tip-off from a man arrested in possession of scrap metal at the weekend.

The 40-year-old Northdale man was found with two municipal manhole covers and part of a fire hydrant on Sunday. “The man told us where the metals are being sold,” said a police officer, adding

that officials from the municipality, Eskom and Transnet went on the raids to identify their property.

The Witness visited the Midlands Scrap Yard an employee confirmed the arrest of his boss.

“Someone sold us out to the police.

“My boss was taken by police at about 11 am, but I’m sure they will release him,” said the employee.

An official from Msunduzi Municipality, who investigates scrap yards for dealing with stolen metal, said he had previously warned PPL management not to buy anything belonging to Eskom, Trans­net or the municipality.

“Msunduzi Municipality has lost metals worth R75 000, and there are about 10 cases reported to the police every month,” he said.

Jeevan said the suspect were charged for being in possession of and receiving stolen property.

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