3 KZN cops on raid end up in Mozambican jail

2014-09-08 00:00

THREE KwaZulu-Natal cops spent over 24 hours in a Mozambican jail — arrested after an armed force of Mozambican police and soldiers executed a cross-border raid into South Africa.

The officers had detained a man thought to be part of an arms smuggling ring near the Mozambican border while on patrol at the Ndumo Game Reserve on Friday.

Shortly after the arrest, they were surrounded by an armed force and swept into Mozambique along with the alleged smuggler and his seized arms cache.

Their release was negotiated yesterday by top police brass.

The raid has raised questions over porous borders between the two states — the complicity of Mozambican forces and the possibility that South Africa’s sovereignty was violated.

With the Suthu River dividing the two countries, the borderline is clear.

Well-placed police sources said that the heavily armed Mozambican force had violated South Africa’s borders.

The highly ranked sources could not be named as they are not authorised to speak to the press.

“What we know is that an armed force of police and military crossed into South Africa and detained three of our officers after they arrested a man on South African soil,” a source said.

The source described the arrest and detention of the policemen as “dubious”.

“A river separates the two countries and the armed force crossed into South Africa when the smuggler was arrested with a cache of weapons. They then swooped off with our police officers and the smuggler and to say they [Mozambican armed forces] were not sure of the placement of the international border is dubious,” he said.

What became of the alleged smuggler is unknown.

Police spokesperson Colonel Jay Naicker said the three officers were safe and that police top brass were making efforts to resolve the matter.

“We can confirm the incident and we are in negotiations with the Mozambican police to clear up the misunderstanding.”

Naicker said that a border dispute had been the stem of the arrest.

“The area they were arrested on is on the borderline with Mozambique. They were arrested after they had arrested a man for smuggling goods, however the Mozambican police felt that it was on their side of the border,” he said.

He confirmed that the officers were released late on Saturday night and shuttled back into South Africa.

“Other police officers from Ndumo notified their cluster commanders and it was escalated up the chain of command.

“We were notified of their arrests by their colleagues and followed up with authorities on the other side. Meetings will be taking place to resolve these disputes along the borders.”

Naicker said the names of the officers could not yet be released until they make contact with their families.

Department of International Relations and Co-operation spokesperson Clayson Monyela could not be reached at the time of going to press.

• jeff.wicks@witness.co.za

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