Port Elizabeth - Eastern Cape premier Phumulo Masualle has welcomed the breakthrough made by the South African Police Service (SAPS) special task team on Friday night, which resulted in a shoot-out between the task team and heavily armed suspects allegedly involved in the Ngcobo police station attack in the Eastern Cape this week.
‘’We commend the quick and decisive breakthrough of the SAPS and the Hawks in the case. We have learnt that upon arrival at the church where the suspects were hiding out, police were engaged in a serious fire-fight with the suspects. A number of them were killed by the police while others managed to escape," he said on Saturday.
‘’We are also happy with the arrests that have been made and urge the public, without whom this breakthrough by the police would not have been possible, to come forward with the relevant information to authorities for the capture of those who remain at large. We wish for a speedy recovery of the police officer who was injured during last night’s [Friday] operation," Masualle said.
Earlier, the Directorate for Priority Crime Investigation (Hawks) said seven suspects allegedly involved in the Ngcobo police station attack were shot dead during a shoot-out with a police special task force on Friday night.
The multi-disciplinary task team established to investigate the murders of five police officers and a retired soldier at Ngcobo made a major breakthrough when they fatally shot seven suspects in a shoot-out at the Mancoba Seven Angels Ministries Church at Nyanga village, the Hawks said.
Hawks spokesman Brigadier Hangwani Mulaudzi said more than 10 other suspects were arrested while others managed to escape. One police officer was wounded and was recuperating in hospital.
The task team, which comprises of the Hawks, crime intelligence, the national intervention unit, and the tactical response team, followed up on information of a possible gang that was responsible for Wednesday night's attack on the police station.
“The group, which uses a church as a hiding place, was cornered inside the church premises. A gun battle between suspects and police ensued which left seven suspects dead and a task force member injured in the legs,” he said.
An unknown number of suspects managed to escape and police were searching for them. A number of firearms were confiscated, Mulaudzi said.
Five policemen from Ngcobo police station were killed on Wednesday night by unknown gunmen who robbed the police station of 10 firearms and fled the scene with a police vehicle they hijacked from two policemen, who they then murdered. The police van was later found abandoned in a ditch off the road a few kilometres from the police station.
The five policeman were identified as Warrant Officer Zuko Mbini, 45, Constable Zuku Ntsheku, 38, Constable Nkosiphendule Pongco, 32, Constable Sibongiseni Sodlana, 32, and Constable Kuhle Metete, 27. A retired soldier, 58-year-old Freddy Mpandeni, was also shot dead when the suspects fled the station.
African News Agency/ANA