Horror find in supermarket cold storeroom
Seugnet Esterhuyse, Beeld
Pretoria - Two dead cats that would probably be sold as meat to unsuspecting clients have been found in the cold storage room of a wholesale supermarket outside Ga-Rankuwa, north of Pretoria.
One cat had already been skinned.
The Hawks closed the business on Monday.
They also found four small frozen crocodiles in the cold storage room and carcasses of animals that had apparently died in the veld.
The meat of the animals would probably have ended up in processed meat products and boerewors, said Hawks spokesperson Colonel McIntosh Polela.
There was also the skin of a zebra in the cold storage room.
The Hawks investigated this business on Monday after they arrested 16 suspects on Friday who were linked to an alleged syndicate that had stolen millions of rands of goods from the Shoprite/Checkers group.
The owner, known only as Dos Santos (in his early 60s), of the company Santos Liquor Store and Supermarket, was one of the suspects who had been arrested.
The Hawks also found 200 crocodiles which were held in terrible conditions in an old farm dam on a smallholding across the road. Polela said the crocodiles lay one top of one another due to a lack of space.
When they arrived at the smallholding on Monday along with the Green Scorpions and nature conservation officials, there were only 20 of the crocodiles left. They are now looking for the others.
Polela said the crocodiles had apparently been moved from the smallholding on Saturday night with two bakkies.
"They (the people who removed the crocodiles) not only transgressed by not having the necessary permits and keeping the crocodiles in terrible conditions, but also defeated the ends of justice by disregarding an order not to interfere with the crime scene," said Polela.
In a storeroom, the Hawks found old crocodile skulls, still covered with skin, several animal skins and stuffed animals, among them a baboon head, antelope heads and several threatened wild cat species.
Polela said the Hawks had become aware of a syndicate - in which employees of the store, shop owners, truck drivers, private wholesalers and security guards were involved - about a year ago.
"Shoprite transports tons of goods to its shops on a daily basis.
"The syndicate, however, would deliver none or only some of the goods at certain stores. They colluded with the shop personnel, who signed for the goods as if they had been delivered. The goods were then sold to private wholesalers."
Shoprite/Checkers suffered damages of millions of rands due to the theft.
The Hawks and Shoprite collaborated in the investigation and identified suspected syndicate members who worked between Pretoria, Ga-Rankuwa and Brits.
The 16 suspects appeared in the Pretoria Magistrate's Court on charges of theft on Monday.
They were released on bail of between R2 000 and R3 000 each.
All of the accused indicated that they intended to plead guilty to the charges against them.