The police have arrested three suspects, including a bus driver, after they found seven sheep locked in the luggage section of a bus in Mount Fletcher, the Eastern Cape.
The trio was apprehended during an impromptu police operation conducted in the Xaxazana Locality.
Police spokesperson Brigadier Thembinkosi Kinana said during the search, seven sheep were found in the luggage section of the bus.
He added the police, including provincial commissioner Lieutenant-General Liziwe Ntshinga, were on their way to an outreach event when they stopped the bus.
Ntshinga conducted a search and called in reinforcements.
"As she continued to search the bus, seven sheep were found locked inside the place where passengers' luggage is normally kept."
According to Kinana, the bus driver was questioned in connection with the find.
"The bus driver was questioned about papers for transportation of the sheep which he failed to produce. Those who claimed the sheep also could not produce the papers which would have served as proof of purchase," he added.
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The livestock were taken to the police station and an investigation was launched to verify the information provided by the suspects.
Kinana said after the investigation, the police were satisfied that the sheep were not stolen but stock theft regulations had been contravened, as no papers were produced for the conveyance and purchase of the livestock.
"Three suspects - including the bus driver - aged between 27 and 35, were arrested after they failed to provide the necessary documents to prove that the sheep were not stolen."
The suspects were fined R300 each and were warned to appear in court should they fail to pay the fines.
Ntshinga warned stock thieves to refrain from their activities as the net around them was being closed gradually.