Cape Times

Bullets fly at police station


POLICE officers at Lingelethu West police station came under fierce fire yesterday, in a ‘‘military-style attack’’ by assailants armed with two R5 assault rifles and a handgun.

A police officer, whose name has been withheld, was wounded below the left eye. The officer was in a stable condition last night.

One of the three thugs entered the police station at about 3am under the pretext of reporting a robbery incident.

The police station is less than 2km from the SANDF’s 9 South African Infantry Battalion base in Khayelitsh­a.

Five armed men overpowere­d security guards at the army base in April before making off with six R4 rifles, magazines and ammunition.

The three attackers involved in the shootout yesterday were believed to be after firearms at the station.

Police have not made a connection between the two incidents.

Two more assailants stormed the station and opened fire. Police fired back as one of them jumped over the counter at the reception.

It is unclear whether any of the attackers were injured.

Provincial police commission­er Khombinkos­i Jula said the attempted robbery undermined the authority of the state.

He said the motive for the attack had not been establishe­d.

Police Minister Fikile Mbalula condemned the attack.

“Police are protectors of communitie­s and we will not allow these kinds of acts to undermine the authority of the state,” he said.

The Khayelitsh­a Developmen­t Forum has hailed the officers for combating what it described as a “military-style attack”.

“The KDF offers its unequivoca­l support to Colonel Dhlamini of Lingelethu police station and his entire management team after surviving a military-style attack by assailants armed with two R5 assault rifles with another one armed with handgun,” said KDF chairperso­n Ndithini Tyhido.

Meanwhile, SANDF spokespers­on Mafi Mgobhozi told the Cape Times that while the investigat­ion was continuing, they suspected the heist at the army base was an inside job.

Police had apprehende­d a 40-year-old former SANDF member for questionin­g in connection with that incident.

“At the moment, things are standing still. They only say they are investigat­ing. There are no leads being followed. It is difficult to say we are not happy with how the investigat­ion is going, but we are not happy that this is taking so long. I do not not what is happening now,” said Mgobhozi.

In an a separate incident, police arrested four suspects who fired shots at the police during an attempted robbery of a cellphone store in a shopping mall in Rondebosch Main Road yesterday.

Police spokespers­on André Traut said: “Police reacted to a panic alarm activated by the staff of the store and rapidly approached the scene with

The three suspects involved in the shoot-out yesterday were believed to be after firearms

caution. The robbers shot at police but were quickly outnumbere­d, and four of them, aged in their thirties, were arrested.”

No one was injured during the “wild” shootout, Traut added.

He said two suspects managed to flee in a VW Polo and detectives were in pursuit.

Earlier in the day, members attached to the Western Cape Flying Squad arrested three suspects, aged 25, 26 and 31, alleged to be in a crowbar gang, following a high-speed chase in Rondebosch.

A crowbar was found in their possession, and stolen items, including jewellery, were in their vehicle.

Traut said police had spotted a VW Polo travelling at a high speed and disobeying a red traffic light on the M3 in Newlands, prompting police to pursue.

“The registrati­on number of the vehicle was tested, which revealed that the vehicle had been stolen in Somerset West.

In an attempt to evade arrest, the driver drove at an excessive speed and collided with another vehicle in Klipper Road, Rondebosch, and finally came to a stop in Main Road,” he said.

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