SAPS makes breakthrough in Eastern Cape tombstones theft, two arrested

A combined operation by various South African Police Service (SAPS) units has led to the arrest of two suspects allegedly involved in the theft and resale of tombstones, Eastern Cape police said on Saturday.

The arrests followed a successful multi-disciplinary operation held with members of the police crime intelligence unit, the K9 unit, the public order policing (POP) unit, the cluster operational crime combatting unit (COCC), and visible policing (Vispol) officers and Sterkspruit detectives, Captain Ursula Roelofse said in a statement.

The joint intelligence-driven operation was conducted at Macacuma locality after a number of tombstone theft incidents took place, mostly in the Sterkspruit and Palmietfontein areas.

”The team proceeded to the identified house and upon further investigation, members managed to arrest two suspects, aged 47 and 31. The suspects are related to each other, an uncle and nephew. They [allegedly] engaged in the business of theft of tombstones and violation of graves.”

The two were allegedly reconstructing and reselling the tombstones to unsuspecting buyers at low rates. Parts of the used tombstone slabs were recovered by the SAPS at their homestead.

”A recent transaction was also confirmed with a new buyer who has purchased two tombstones and had them installed at an old grave and a new grave to which the burial would take place today [Saturday], 8 June 2019. Both the stones with installation costs were worth R8000,” Roelofse said.

Cash in the amount of R7600 was also recovered. The cellphone of the alleged main culprit was also confiscated and ”conversations about sales of tombstones and pictures of tombstones installed” would be downloaded. The total value of the recovered items was R14,600.

The arrests were viewed as a breakthrough and could be linked to many pending dockets of this nature. The arrested suspects would appear in court in Sterkspruit on Monday, Roelofse said.

The local policing cluster deputy commander Colonel Mpho Rabela commended the officers for their joint efforts that secured the arrests.

– African News Agency (ANA),

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