Prompt action by the police on Saturday evening led to the arrest of seven suspects who are linked to the attack on police officers in the Maluti settlement in the Eastern Cape.
According to col. Police spokesperson Priscilla Naidu said two officers from the police’s crime prevention unit were conducting a compliance inspection at a tavern in the Maluti settlement at around 23:45 when they were attacked by customers who were upset about the closure of the tavern.
“The customers pelted the officers with stones and damaged their vehicle’s window and windscreen. They also stole the officers’ firearms, a 9 mm pistol and an R5 rifle,” says Naidu.
The officers called for assistance and a task team was sent there immediately.
“When the members of the task team arrived at the scene, they came across the two injured officers, respectively 39 and 41 years old. They were found about a kilometer from the tavern with head injuries. One of the officers’ shoulder was dislocated.”
The officers were taken to hospital for further medical treatment.
The task force combed the area around the tavern and members of the canine unit shortly afterwards apprehended a 23-year-old suspect where he was hiding in a mountainous area.
“One of the officers’ 9mm pistol was found in his possession.”
A second suspect (27) was arrested along the way. He was found in possession of an unlicensed revolver and ammunition.
“With the help of the local community policing forum (CPF), a 23-year-old suspect was located in a house in the area. He was found in possession of a CZ 75 pistol.”
A fourth suspect (27) was handcuffed after he went to the police station around 03:00 on Sunday to make a false statement. The suspect apparently made up a story that he saw someone hide the stolen R5 rifle in the cemetery.
“The R5 gun was located and this man was arrested.”
The four suspects were charged for the illegal possession of firearms and ammunition.
Three more suspects, between the ages of 23 and 34 years old, were later also arrested for the attack on the police members, as well as malicious damage to property. The two seized firearms have been sent for ballistics tests.
Lt. Gen. Nomthetheleli Mene, provincial police commissioner in the Eastern Cape, praised the police task force for their swift action.
“Thanks to the swift and relentless efforts of the task force, all seven suspects were apprehended. The firearms stolen from our members as well as the two other firearms were successfully recovered. We are grateful for that because it will ensure that these dangerous weapons will not be used against other community members,” says Mene.
“The unwavering commitment, support and assistance of the CPF and community members is invaluable. It is through the cooperation between law enforcement authorities and the community that we can create safer neighborhoods for all.
“To those who dare to attack our men and women in blue, we issue a stern warning that we will not rest until justice is served. Those responsible for such crimes will face serious consequences.”