Fatal shooting at air force base

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Caryn Dolley

A GUARD at a Free State air force base killed a colleague and wounded two others yesterday in a shooting the SANDF Union says was linked to an argument over a woman.

The shooting happened at the Air Force Base Bloemspruit, in Bloemfontein, in the early hours of yesterday.

Pikkie Greeff, national secretary of the union, said the shooter was a guard at the base.

“There was some argument between him and two men about a lady,” Greeff said.

Greeff said in 20 years there had been four shootings at SANDF bases.

Free State police spokesman Harry Nagel said officers were probing the incident.

He said after the shooting, in which one SANDF member was critically wounded and another sustained less serious wounds, the suspect had handed himself over to guards and he was then detained by the police.

“His service pistol was confiscated,” Nagel said.

The suspect, who faces a murder charge and two attempted murder charges, is expected to appear in court by tomorrow.

Yesterday, SANDF spokesman Xolani Mabanga said he could not comment on what had led to the shooting, but could confirm a shooting had occurred at the base.

He said more details would be released once the police had completed their preliminary investigation and the families of those involved had been told what had happened. The name of the member who had been killed could not be released yet.

Despite the shooting, he said, it was “work as usual” at the base.

On the Defence Department’s website, Air Force Base Bloemspruit was described as a “respected helicopter centre of excellence”.

Under a profile, it said it did not have “troops”, but a “very small percentage of short-term personnel”.

“High-risk, high-cost business – very controlled environment where safety, discipline, competencies and continuous training is a way of life,” it said.

Under the heading “core training”, it listed “gunnery training” and “all air-to-ground weapons training for the fighter fraternity”.

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