A 27-year-old police officer and an Ethiopian national were shot dead on Wednesday during a robbery at a foreign-owned shop in New Eersterus, north of the city.
The Ethiopian was wounded, while the police officer was shot dead on the scene after responding to the robbery at a spaza shop and the shooting of the Ethiopian shop owner, who later died in hospital.
About six robbers held up the Ethiopian shop owner, Mogis Wame, at gunpoint, demanding cash when two police officers arrived. New Eersterus is west of Hammanskraal.
A shoot-out between the police officers and robbers ensued, leaving the officer dead and Wame wounded.
The officer, who cannot be named as his next of kin have not yet been informed, was stationed at the Temba police station.
Police spokeswoman Colonel Noxolo Kweza confirmed that the constable was attending to a call in the early hours of the morning.
“The officer died at the scene. The shop owner was critically wounded during the shoot-out and taken to hospital, where he died.
“The robbers fled on foot. We are not sure if any of them were injured,” Kweza said, adding that no arrests had been made by Wednesday night.
Kibamo Shafamo, Wame’s brother, said the robbers tried to break into the spaza shop through the roof at about midnight, but failed. They resorted to breaking down a door which led into Wame’s bedroom.
Standing at the spaza shop’s door where Wame’s blood was still visible, Shafamo said he was still in disbelief.
“You see up there,” he said, pointing at a hole in the roof. “That’s where they tried to come into the shop through that hole. They couldn’t. They moved to another spot on the roof and failed again,” he said.
Shafamo said the suspects broke down Wame’s door and dragged him into the store where they demanded money.
“He said he didn’t have money and that’s when they assaulted him,” he said. “Police arrived while the robbers were still in the store with Wame. They shot him and ran outside,” he said.
A shoot-out followed.
According to Shafamo, the robbers ran to the back of the store and hid. Police chased after them.
“I don’t think he (the police officer) knew they were waiting for him. They shot him in the head and ran away,” he said.
Shafamo and other Ethiopians on Wednesday afternoon packed Wame’s stock and belongings into three vehicles. They said they were moving the items to a safe location.
“You can’t be safe any more, especially after having a police officer killed. We fear for our lives because nobody can protect us,” Shafamo said.
Lopijo Hendo, another Ethiopian shop owner, said foreign nationals in the area were being targeted by robbers.
“We are always being robbed. It happens frequently, but it has never led to loss of life. We are scared now,” he said.
Although their lives were in apparent danger, he said they would not move out of New Eersterus.
Residents in the township said they heard several gunshots at about midnight but did not investigate as the shooting lasted for about half an hour.
A community member, who wished to remain anonymous, said police regularly patrolled the area and that was how they discovered the robbery. “These things are worrying. We did not know what was happening. We heard gunshots, but we didn’t go out in case we were shot,” he said.
The robbers are reported to have got away with some items from the shop, including cigarettes and airtime vouchers.
Kweza said two cases of murder and a case of business robbery were being investigated.
- Pretoria News