An immediate investigation has been launched into two northern KwaZulu-Natal men who were found to be monitoring police radio frequencies, police said on Tuesday.
Police spokesperson Captain Charmaine Struwig said the pair were caught on Newcastle Road in Ladysmith on Monday night but had not yet been arrested.
She said the two belonged to a towtruck company but the name has not yet been released.
"Officers became suspicious of these men and were observing them on Monday when there was a report of an accident on the police radio.
"The two breakdown men immediately responded to the accident," she said.
This, she said, was strange because no one knew about the accident at that point besides the police.
Struwig said the officers stopped the breakdown van on Newcastle Road.
In their possession, police found a scanner device - which is used to pick up radio frequencies and police radio frequencies.
"This case has serious implications because if it fell into the hands of a criminal, they would be able to monitor police activity," Struwig said.
"We have to look into what laws these men were contravening and make sure we have the correct charges and enough evidence before we make an arrest - otherwise they could end up walking free.
Struwig said police were also investigating where the men had obtained the scanner.
"Police are further investigating whether the breakdown company was aware of what their employees were doing."
John Steenhuizen, eThekwini's Democratic Alliance caucus leader, said on Tuesday they were "extremely concerned" about this case.
"This deals directly with the heart of safety and security in this country and it is worrying to know that criminals can listen in on police communications but police can't listen to theirs," he said.
Steenhuizen said he would not be surprised if other breakdown companies were operating similar devices "because they are always very fast to get to an accident scene".
He said he had also heard of cases in the past where criminals were caught in possession of police radios.
"I just hope that this scanner is traced and if it was bought illegally I hope that strong action will be taken against those involved," Steenhuizen said. - Sapa
May 06 2008