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Cape Town -
A lone policeman on duty at a police station in a Boland village was shot dead on Wednesday night by criminals who robbed the station of five firearms.
Manning the charge office by himself late at night while two colleagues were on vehicle patrol, the married father of two died in a pool of his own blood on the floor of the small charge office on Old Paarl Road in Klapmuts.
Warrant Officer Steven Britz, 44, was alone in the charge office during the late night shift because an officer from his four-member shift was on leave.
Britz was the fourth police officer attacked in the Western Cape this year and the third to die on duty.
Western Cape provincial commissioner Lieutenant-General Arno Lamoer said the incident “should be very worrying for the whole of South Africa”.
“It was a brazen act, walking into a police charge office, shooting the man on duty and getting away with police firearms.”
Britz was married with two children. He had 22 years’ service with the police.
Late on Wednesday night, just before 11pm, it is believed three men arrived at the door of the police station and rang the bell to enter. It is believed Britz pushed the button to open the security gate to allow the trio to enter.
Exactly what happened after that remains unclear.
Neither Lamoer, nor any of his staff at the scene this morning could give more details, but Britz was shot and killed, after which the three attackers made their escape with five firearms stolen from the charge office.
Neither Lamoer nor spokesman Lieutenant-Colonel André Traut would say what type of firearms were taken, but it is understood that members usually go on vehicle patrol with sidearms, leaving heavier calibre weapons such as shotguns and R5 assault rifles locked up at the charge office.
A visibly upset Lamoer visited the Klapmuts police station on Thursday while detectives searched the charge office for clues.
“It is too much. This cannot go on,” Lamoer said.
“The members out on patrol called the charge office and he answered. When they called in again later, the phone was just shut off. They returned to the charge office and found him lying on the floor in a pool of blood.”
Lamoer said the Klapmuts police station had 40 members, with four on duty per shift. They served a community of about 15 000 people.
He admitted it was not normal to leave one person alone in the charge office, but it was all that could be done because one member was on leave.
Lamoer would not comment on the probability that the attackers had known there would be a lone policeman on duty on Wednesday night.