A hero. A policeman through and through.
That’s how Lt. Col. Joe Coetzer (55) of the Falcons describes losing his leg after a fierce shootout between a group of transit robbers in Louis Trichardt, Limpopo. He is currently recovering in a hospital in Polokwane.
Coetzer was wounded in the right leg during the shooting on Friday afternoon and to save his life, the leg had to be amputated above the knee.
The Falcons, specialized units of the police and private security companies raided a luxury house in Eltivillas in Louis Trichardt just after 14:00 on Friday while a syndicate of transit robbers was planning a robbery. The robbers were heavily armed.
The suspects were about to leave the house to carry out their plans, when they realized they were being monitored by the authorities.
A shootout broke out between the authorities and robbers and lasted about 90 minutes.
According to Brig. Thandi Mbambo, spokeswoman for the Hawks, Coetzer was rushed by helicopter to a hospital in Polokwane for further medical treatment after the incident. Specialists worked tirelessly to save his leg, but they had to amputate it above the knee.
Mbambo confirmed to RNews on Monday morning that Coetzer is “recovering well”.
According to information from André Snyman, founder of the crime-fighting organization eBlockwatch, and the pressure group Public Interest SA, Coetzer did not give up the fight when his fingers were shot.
Paramedics bandaged his fingers and he then went back to the “war zone” to help out his colleagues. He was then shot in the leg.
“Coetzer is a true hero. He displayed remarkable courage and determination and continued to fight to make sure justice was served, even after being seriously wounded. We were touched by Coetzer’s bravery,” says Cassandra Kau, spokesperson for Public Interest SA.
According to Marcelle Maritz, FF Plus leader in Limpopo, the actions of Coetzer and his colleagues prove that there are still many police members who will throw everything into the fight against crime and are even prepared to put their lives on the line to maintain law and order. maintain the country.
It was initially reported that 18 suspects died during the shooting. According to Lt. Col. Matimba Maluleke, spokesperson for the Hawks, another body of an adult man was discovered in one of the rooms in the house on Saturday.
This brings the number of suspects who died during the shooting to 19, including 17 men and two women.
“Explosives, 11 firearms, ammunition and several assault rifles were seized,” confirms Maluleke.
“Five vehicles were also seized, including a Land Rover Freelander, a Toyota Hilux bakkie, a Ford Ranger Wildtrak bakkie, a Jeep Cherokee sport utility vehicle, a Mercedes-Benz GL and a Volkswagen Tiguan . Three of the vehicles were stolen in Mpumalanga and Gauteng.”
During the shootout, five suspects were arrested at another address in Thohoyandou, Limpopo. The suspects are believed to be part of the syndicate.
“One suspected stolen vehicle (a Volvo) and another vehicle – with an ambulance sign – were found at the second address in Thohoyandou and seized. It is suspected that the vehicle, which looks like an ambulance, would be used to transport the stolen money from Limpopo to Gauteng after the robbery.”
The five suspects are expected to appear in the Magistrate’s Court in Vuwani today on charges of possessing suspected stolen vehicles.
The process to identify the deceased will also take place on Monday.
RNews reported earlier that the crackdown on the syndicate is the culmination of a major investigation that already began in January this year.
In the past year, Limpopo has been particularly affected by a wave of transit robberies. According to the latest crime statistics, 11 transit robberies took place in the province between April and June this year.
“Limpopo and Mpumalanga joined forces to arrest the syndicate. Suspects were identified based on various investigations carried out by the team. We therefore believe that we have indeed apprehended the suspects we investigated. Further investigations will be launched to determine whether the group was involved in other crimes,” Lt. Gen. Godfrey Lebeya, head of the Falcons, said.
Lt. Gen. Thembi Hadebe, the police commissioner of Limpopo, admitted in June this year that transit robberies had seriously increased in the Vhembe district in particular. He announced that a cash-in-transit plan had been introduced for Limpopo.
“It seems that the introduction of this plan is successful and hopefully this action by the police will discourage other transit robbers,” says Maritz of the FF Plus.