The search for more suspects linked to the Ngcobo police murders continues today, despite the breakthrough at the weekend.
On Friday night, police received information that the unknown gunmen were hiding at the Seven Angels Church in Nyanga village at Ngcobo in the Eastern Cape.
In a shoot-out between a police special task force and the gunmen on Friday night, seven suspects were shot dead and 10 others arrested, while some apparently managed to escape.
The search is underway for the escaped.
The suspects are linked to the mass murder of five police officers; Warrant Officer Zuko Mbini, Constable Zuku Ntsheku, Constable Nkosiphendule Pongco, Constable Sibongiseni Sodlana and Constable Kuhle Metete, who were gunned down while on duty at Ngcobo Police station in the Eastern Cape on Wednesday morning.
The retired soldier, Freddy Mpandeni, was also killed during the shooting.
Police Minister Fikile Mbalula said this “tragedy will remain one of the worst moments of our democracy, where protectors of our democracy and people were under attack. What happened at Ngcobo must never happen again in our republic”.
The Minister, who visited the area together with Police National Commissioner General Khehle Sitole, on Friday welcomed the breakthrough with the takedown operation, saying the officers must continue “to assert the authority of the state and affirm rule of law”.
“Police arrested suspected criminals in a satanic place masquerading as a church. Our people must be vigilant and report these kinds of places. We urge our people to continue working with the Police for a peaceful and prosperous South Africa,” the Minister said.
General Sitole assembled a multi-disciplinary team, consisting of experienced detectives, the
Hawks, Crime Intelligence, National Intervention Unit, Special Task Force and Tactical Response Team.
The instruction by General Sitole was clear, investigate the murder of police officers and bring the killers to justice within 72 hours.
“I must thank the police for a job well done, they must continue to assert the authority of the state and affirm rule of law,” Minister Mbalula added.
General Sitole also welcomed the arrests saying: “I am extremely proud of the entire investigation team as well as the medium to high-risk teams for their unwavering commitment to this case.
“While I have welcomed the outcome of this tireless investigation, I feel that this is still little comfort for the families, relatives and colleagues that are mourning”.
A memorial service will be held on Tuesday for the murdered police officers. The chairperson of the Portfolio Committee on Police, Francois Beukman, will attend the memorial service.
“As the portfolio committee, we will give moral support to the families of the deceased and the SAPS during this difficult time. This is also a clear sign that the thoughts and prayers of all South Africans are with families of the deceased policemen,” Beukman said on Sunday.
The chairperson further encouraged the community of Engcobo to give the necessary support to the SAPS members of the station during this very difficult time.
The incident, according to Beukman, has also highlighted the dangerous environment in which policemen and women operate, and the urgent need for SAPS to deal with violent organised crime as a matter of priority.
Beukman said critical matters that came to the fore in the Engcobo case with relation to crime intelligence, technology, tactical training and the security measures at police stations will come under scrutiny at an envisaged meeting.
The committee will meet with the National Commissioner in the next two weeks to receive a briefing on the incident that took place in Engcobo, while a special debate on the incident will take place on Wednesday in the National Assembly.
General Sitole has urged South Africans to help make South Africa a safer place by reporting the crime before and after it happens to the SAPS Crime Stop number 086 00 10111. Callers may remain anonymous and all information will be treated in the strictest of confidence. – SAnews.gov.za
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