A SECOND police officer has been arrested in connection with the multi-million rand heist at OR Tambo International Airport in Johannesburg.
Police confirmed the officer’s arrest on Monday. The officer was part of the five people that were arrested over the weekend as police work against the clock to bring to book all those behind the robbery.
“The five men appeared briefly in the Kempton Park Magistrate’s Court today [Monday], facing a charge of armed robbery. The case has been remanded to the 28th and 29th of March 2017 for a bail application. It is regrettable and at the same time pleasing to note that, among the five people arrested over the weekend, a member of the South African Police Service was among them,” acting national police commissioner Khomotso Phahlane said in a statement.
He said the arrest affords them the opportunity to take appropriate action against their own.
Phahlane maintained that there is no place for corrupt or criminal elements in the police service.
“This arrest sends a strong message that we will continue to investigate without fear or favour,” he said.
Sources close to the investigation say the arrested officer is a constable stationed at OR Tambo. The suspects were arrested in various areas in Gauteng.
One was arrested in Soshanguve, another one in Tembisa, with the rest arrested in Kempton Park and Midrand.
The man arrested in Soshanguve, in Tshwane, was a guard working for the security company where the money was kept in the volt.
The second suspect was also a guard at G4 Force, said one source speaking on condition of anonymity.
The third suspect is said to be a Zimbabwean national who was allegedly responsible for the cloned police car used during the heist. The fourth suspect was arrested in Midrand at the lofty Blue Valley Estate.
He was allegedly found in the position of a Lamborghini worth R5 million and an undisclosed amount of money. The fifth suspect who was working as a parameter guard at the airport was arrested on Sunday.
Robbers made off with millions of rands in foreign currency during the robbery at the national key point. The money was en-route to London when the gang pounced. The group is said to have used North Gate 1 which serves as an entrance for protocol convoys transporting VIPs.
They were said to have been well organised and possessed security paraphernalia’s that allowed them access to restricted areas.
Within 30 minutes the robbers had left the airport with bags full of money and no single gunshot fired.
It was not the first armed robbery to be committed at the airport.
In 2006 the national key point was hit and suspects made off with R100 million.
The group was armed with AK47 rifles.
With the recent robbery, the gang allegedly cloned a police car which they used during the heist. There was also an Airports Company of South Africa branded car.
Phahlane previously confirmed that the vehicle did not belong to SAPS. Some of the vehicles used were recovered in Mamelodi, east of Pretoria.
Two men who were arrested within a week of the armed robbery are due to appear in the Kempton Park Magistrate’s Court later this week. They are out on R50 000 bail.
Phahlane has lashed out at the media for publishing pictures of the suspect with the Lamborghini. He said investigators should be given space to carry out their duties.
He added that journalists should source credible information from court proceedings.
“As the South African Police Service, we wish to place it on record that we understand and respect journalists’ mandate as a watchdog for society. However, soliciting information from members who are involved in the investigation is noted with serious concern. We are looking into the matter, to establish which of our members are leaking information to various media houses. This is not assisting us in any way with regards to the ongoing investigation. The publishing of articles should not be to the detriment of our investigation and will not be condoned,” Phahlane added.