Brave city policeman hailed as a hero
I took cover behind a shop, took out my firearm and that’s when he started shooting at me
CAPTAIN Velasazi Ndlela strikes a slender figure in comparison to some of his more burly police colleagues, but don’t let this fool you – he’s a force to be reckoned with. Ndlela has been hailed a local hero following his brave effort in single-handedly taking down four business robbery suspects, two of whom were armed, at PEP Stores in Union Street in Empangeni on Thursday. According to Ndlela he was off duty and dressed in civilian clothes, and had been inside the store with his wife to purchase her a cellphone when four men entered. ‘We had been inside the store for only about a minute when the four entered. I particularly noticed one of them because he had a pair of shoes on that caught my attention. ‘Then they left the store and disappeared. ‘The next thing I noticed was one of them reappearing in the store and heading straight towards the cashiers with a big black suitcase. ‘I then saw another suspect pointing a firearm at the security guard’s waist and pushing him forward. That’s when I realised a robbery was in progress. ‘I also saw that the store manager was being instructed by a third robber to open the cubicle in which the cellphones were kept. Ndlela said at that stage he wanted to get out of the store to sound the alarm and notify his colleagues about what was going on, but when he attempted to leave, a suspect stationed at the entrance pulled out his firearm and told him to back off. ‘He pushed me back and told me ‘they are working here now’. ‘I just remained calm and stood still, until another customer also wanted to leave.’ While the robber’s attention was diverted while engaging that customer, Ndlela took a split second decision that would result in the arrest of all four suspects. ‘I saw my opportunity and I ran out the store. The suspect chased after me and I took cover behind a shop, took out my firearm and that’s when he started shooting at me, shouting at his friends to make a getaway,’ Ndlela said. The suspect with the suitcase ran out and attempted to flee, but was shot in the leg during the exchange of gunfire between Ndlela and the door watch robber. The two remaining suspects inside the store attempted to escape, but were confronted by Ndlela, who instructed them to remain inside. Ndlela called for back-up and the suspect who shot at him was arrested a few metres from the scene by police officers. Two unlicensed firearms and the suitcase containing an undisclosed amount of cash were seized. The two injured robbers were taken to Ngwelezana Hospital for treatment and are being kept under police guard. All four suspects aged between 21 and 34 will appear in the Empangeni Magistrate’s Court today (Monday) facing charges of attempted murder, robbery and possession of unlicensed firearms and ammunition. Ndlela in the meantime has received heaps of praise from his superiors and the community. He was awarded with a certificate of bravery following his heroic efforts by acting KZN Commissioner, Major General Bheki Langa, at the SAPS King Cetshwayo Cluster police parade held on Friday in Empangeni.
General Bheki Langa hands over a certificate of bravery to Captain Velasazi Ndlela during Friday’s police parade in recognition of his heroic efforts in Empangeni last week when he took on four business robbers by himself