Police killers' days are numbered

Thursday, March 1, 2018

Police Minister General Bheki Cele has issued a strong warning to criminals who target the men and women in blue.

Making a statement on escalating police killings in the National Assembly on Wednesday, the Minister said those who dare to confront police with lethal force will be the ones who find themselves being buried in the end.

The Minister said this following shocking scenes in Ngcobo in the Eastern Cape that saw five police officers being shot dead in an ambush last week when several suspects allegedly entered a police station and disarmed and killed officers.

“We want to make it very clear that the SA Police Service is not an undertaker company... I would like to issue a strong warning that any military engagement by the thugs engaging SAPS should be one side going to bury after the engagement and that side shall not be the SAPS (sic),” he said.

This was the first time that the Minister was making a public statement in Parliament ever since he was sworn in to his position following a Cabinet reshuffle on Monday night.

At the orders of the President, police deployed multi-disciplinary task teams comprising several police units which included the Special Task Force, National Intervention Unit, the Hawks and Detective Services, among others.

Information from reliable sources led police to a church where suspects exchanged gunfire with police. The Minister said the retaliation by the police resulted in seven suspects being fatally wounded and three others being wounded. This led to 37 suspects being arrested from the church and shacks near the church. However, only five were found to be involved in the ambush.

The Minister said after interrogation, the suspects confessed that the motive behind the ambush was because the police station was identified as an ideal source for firearms that they would use to rob a Capitec Bank ATM, which is located opposite the police station.

Addressing MPs in the National Assembly, the Minister said all the suspects who were arrested during the operation were questioned and it transpired that only five suspects out of the 37 arrested individuals were involved in the murder of the police officers at Ngcobo police station.

The case has been remanded to 8 March 2018 for formal bail application.

All five accused are in SAPS custody. Further investigation and follow-ups are in progress.

The Minister said the National Commissioner has ordered a deployment of additional reinforcements to the Ngcobo area.

“The community of Ngcobo and surrounding areas are assured that day-to-day policing will be maintained at the required level and professionalism. Out of the 10 stolen guns, nine have been recovered. The ninth one was recovered last night. The entire operation was led by the Hawks.

“The commissioner will keep these forces in the community of Ngcobo until the situation stabilises. We will go back there after the funerals and make an assessment and if needs be, extend the operations.

“We would like to thank the community of Ngcobo, which has cooperated very well with the police. It will be determined by investigations if it remains a church or perished as a permanent crime scene.” – SAnews.gov.za 

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