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Two officials from the City of Ekurhuleni (CoE) municipality were arrested for their involvement in the theft of diesel belonging to the municipality. The arrests took place following a sting operation by the Ekurhuleni Metropolitan Police Department, various law enforcement agencies, and private security stakeholders.

According to the CoE, the first suspect was arrested when he came to off-load diesel at an agricultural holding, and the rest were caught at the Springs Depot. An owner of the private bus fleet company alongside two of his employees in the facility, where the fuel was being off-loaded, were also among those arrested.

"The arrests followed an ongoing intelligence-driven operation that has been surveilling the city's vehicles, mainly trucks, which had been spotted on several instances off-loading diesel at the facility, which is a private bus depot," the municipality said, SA News reported.

"Following weeks of investigations, the private security operators working under supervision with the Multi Dimensional Organized Crime unit, finally pounced on the suspects," the CoE added.

According to the municipality, there is no clarification yet as to how the diesel was looted from the resources of the city. However, the CoE added that "the modus operandi was that the trucks would fill up at the municipal depots each morning only to go and off load the fuel at the private facility and get paid for this. They would then return the vehicles empty and refill the next morning and do the same thing over."

Isaac Mapiyeye, the municipality's Police Chief, said that more such incidents can happen in the future. He called it a "well-orchestrated operation" that ran for many months and now, the police have been working with the fleet management team of the city (EMPD) tirelessly to find out everyone involved in the fuel theft.

"Foul play has always been suspected because of the rate at which some of our vehicles were refilling fuel on a regular basis. Unfortunately for the criminal elements their luck finally ran out," he added. "We will not rest until all those who are involved in such illicit acts are behind bars."

The municipality's police chief stressed that "this is public money and money that we desperately need to provide quality and sustainable services to the community of Ekurhuleni."

Earlier this year, President Cyril Ramaphosa expressed confidence in the South African police force to fight against criminal activities, including stealing of fuel.