Six months ago, national police commissioner General Khehla Sitole announced a specialised task team formed to catch the masterminds behind the spike in cash-in-transit (CIT) heists. In the past 10 days, they have reportedly arrested six suspects who are said to orbit suspect number 1 Wellington ‘Bibi’ Cenenda.
Gauteng Hawks boss Major-General Prince Mokotedi was quoted by the Sunday Times as saying they had identified Cenenda as the kingpin responsible for CIT heists around Gauteng, North West, Limpopo and Mpumalanga. He told the paper the arrest of the kingpin, aged 38, would “end it all”.
The Times reports Cenenda has already slipped away from the police during raids in Tembisa, in Gauteng, and another in a Tzaneen safehouse in Limpopo.
Mokotedi was optimistic the police were closing in on the kingpin, saying after crushing the Pretoria gang, the police would move in on their Johannesburg counterparts.
Of the attacks by Cenenda’s gang, the Boksburg heist on Atlas Road is one of the more notable ones, in particular the dramatic video footage that surfaced after the robbery.
Watch the Boksburg heist:
The Boksburg heist and 22 other ones have, according to the Hawks, enriched the gang by about R46 million.
Beginning six months ago, law enforcement gathered a formidable team to track Cenenda from a tiny room in the Johannesburg CBD, the Sunday paper reports, and they were supported by cybercrime experts, forensic analysts, detectives and intelligence agents. This constellation of experts and intelligence agents collected data from cellphone records, bank statements, title deeds, vehicles and firearms.
Of the suspects arrested since 10 days ago, two reportedly include a Tshwane metro policewoman and a 67-year-old grandmother.
For her master’s thesis, criminology lecturer Dr Mahlogonolo Thobane interviewed CIT heist convicts, who revealed that they often worked together with security guards and members of the police force.
According to the Times, the Tshwane metro cop is the second to be cuffed for working together with the robbers, hiding firearms and helping circulate the weapons.