Two more people have been arrested in connection with the robbery of 18 students and their professors from the United States while on an outreach visit to Viva Foundation School in Lusaka informal settlement in Mamelodi, east of Pretoria on May 13, Gauteng police said on Sunday.
“Police have arrested two more suspects, in Limpopo on Friday and in Mpumalanga on Saturday 25 [May] respectively, in connection with the robbery of US students and attempted murder of a bystander at Viva Foundation School in Mamelodi two weeks ago,” Brigadier Mathapelo Peters said.
“The intelligence-driven operation will continue as police are optimistic that it is only a matter of time until the remaining suspects are arrested.”
Peters said the two were due in court on Monday, pending confirmation of the court.
Earlier this month, the South African Police Service (SAPS) arrested a 30-year-old man in connection with the robbery. He was nabbed at Pienaarspoort informal settlement in Mamelodi East.
“Police are hot on the heels of outstanding suspects and believe that it is only a matter of time before they are found and arrested,” Peters said at the time.
It is alleged that a group of about five armed suspects accosted the visitors and robbed them of personal belongings, including laptops, cellphones, cameras, passports, airline tickets, bags, and US dollars.
Peters said that a day after the incident, an intelligence-based operation led investigators to a car wash in Phase 3 of Mamelodi East, where a Toyota Quantum minibus taxi matching the description of the vehicle used during the robbery was recovered.
“The vehicle was processed, leading to the discovery of crucial evidence through which police were able to confirm that the taxi had been used during the commission of the armed robbery,” said Peters.
Gauteng police commissioner Lt-Gen Elias Mawela commended the investigating team who were working “around the clock” to track down the suspects, and urged the team to maintain its momentum.
“Criminals must understand that we mean business. They cannot be terrorising our communities, let alone children as well as visitors to our country, and think they can get away with it. We will not rest until we are convinced that serious and violent crime is a thing of the past,” Mawela said.
– African News Agency (ANA)