Two Free State students shot dead, two critically wounded in Botjhabela attack
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RUSTENBURG: Two University of the Free State (UFS) students were shot dead and two others were critically injured, when armed men attacked them at Botjhabela, near Phuthaditjhaba, on Wednesday, Free State police said
Police spokesperson Brigadier Motantsi Makhele said the students were allegedly attacked and shot by three unknown men who were wearing masks. The gunmen demanded cash, laptops, and cellphones, from them.
“It is alleged that police were summoned to a shooting incident, at about 1am, at Botjhabela Village. Upon their arrival, they found a group of students, believed to be studying at University of Free State, at Qwaqwa Campus.
“Police found two male bodies on the scene, with fatal gunshot wounds. The deceased were identified by their friends. Two other males were already rushed to Mofumahadi Manapo Regional Hospital, where they are in critical condition,” said Makhele.
He said the number of stolen items were yet to be determined.
“The names of the deceased and injured will be released once the next of kin have been informed,” said Makhele.
A case docket of two murders and two of attempted murders, including house robbery, were opened.
In an unrelated incident, a police officer was shot and injured, during a shootout with alleged rhino poachers, in Vredefort.
Brigadier Makhele said a police officer was shot in the leg on Tuesday.
“The official, aged 34, was rushed to the hospital for medical attention where he is recovering.
“Prior to the official’s injury, SAPS members attached to Heilbron Stock Theft and Endangered Species Unit, and Tactical Response Team (TRT), conducted an observation watch, to follow-up on information about suspects planning to poach rhino in the Vredefort vicinity. A motor vehicle, fitting the description circulated, was spotted and stopped. The two suspects, aged 39 and 37, were arrested after being linked to the poaching conspiracy," he said.
He said members from the units were still in the veld, in Presidentskop, waiting for the poachers, when a shootout ensued between the poachers and police
“One TRT member was shot in the leg and was rushed to hospital for medical attention. However, the suspects managed to flee the scene, leaving behind one .375 calibre hunting rifle, 10 rounds of live ammunition, a silencer, and an axe. These items were confiscated by the police,” said Makhele.
A case of attempted murder and rhino poaching, under the Biodiversity Act, were registered for further investigation.
“The two suspects will be charged for a case of rhino poaching and are set to appear before the Vredefort Magistrate’s Court on Thursday, September 23, 2021. There is no one arrested for attempted murder at this stage,” he said.