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Four Held Over SA Airport Heist But Cash Nowhere To Be Found

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South African police have arrested four people including a police officer over the airport heist a week ago but the money is still missing.

Acting national commissioner of the South African Police Services (SAPS) Lieutenant General Khomotso Phahlane told a televised news conference on Tuesday evening that two of the four arrested people appeared in court earlier in the day. The pair who appeared in the Kempton Park Magistrate's Court did not include the police officer.

They face charges of armed robbery.

Phahlane would not give details of any of the four, even though two have already appeared in court. "The two who have already appeared before court are African males," was all he would say on them.

He said more arrests were expected and could include more police officers; the involvement of a police office meant that it could be an inside job, he said.

The robbery on March 7 was on the supposedly secure premises of the OR Tambo International Airport — a national keypoint — in Johannesburg. The gang used a cloned police vehicle and wore police uniforms; and security which was meant to be on site was reportedly mysteriously absent. They stole bags full of foreign currency.

The money is still missing and the police won't say how much was taken.

"We are still looking for the money... We will do our best to get there," said Phahlane.

"How much — it's still a subject of our investigation, we can't give any figures there."

News24 and Independent Online previously reported that R24 million was stolen.

The Times previously reported that "nearly R200 million in foreign currency" was taken, that the robbers had Airports Company of South Africa identity cards to enable access to secure areas, and that the target was a container of foreign exchange being taken by Guardforce International Transportation and G4S from banks in South Africa to London.

Phahlane said the arrests were not "tip-off based, it is based on intelligence" and SAPS crime intelligence had "worked very hard" on the case. He said the reported security breaches on the day of the incident were being investigated, referring to the case as "characterised by security breaches".

"We are committed to securing our ports of entry and preventing and combating serious crimes of this nature," said Phahlane.

In another breakthrough, Phahlane said that four people were arrested in connection with the murder of 14 people who were found shot dead next to a railway line in Benoni on March 5 and 7.

At the time, the killings were linked to clashes between gangs involved in illegal mining.

Phahlane said the arrest of the four was a "significant" breakthrough. He said all the victims and suspects were Lesotho nationals; one of the suspects was arrested in South Africa and the other three in Lesotho.

The Lesotho group were found with unlicensed firearms and have already been convicted of possession of unlicensed weapons in Lesotho, said Phahlane. "We are in discussion with our Interpol colleagues to facilitate the extradition of those in Lesotho."

The weapons will undergo forensic tests to check if they are linked to the 14 murders.

News24

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