Bergville gang in shootout with cops over dagga

2008-05-20 00:00

A GROUP of Bergville community members armed with assault rifles outnumbered border police and rescued Lesotho dagga traffickers from being arrested on Monday.

The border post police officers nevertheless managed to seize 22 bags of dagga weighing 1 960 kg and with a street value of R250 000. They also seized five AK47s and a number of handguns and homemade guns.

Police made the confiscation after a lengthy shootout in broad daylight with Lesotho nationals, who were later joined by Bergville residents. Police also confiscated a donkey used to transport the cargo.

“It started with shooting between police and Lesotho nationals. Then it was Bergville people. As the police were returning fire to the Bergville group, the Basothos managed to escape. We don’t know how many … [Bergville attackers], because they were randomly shooting from the bushy hills,” police spokesman Vincent Mdunge said.

The police operation started on Sunday after police received a tip-off about the cargo. Eight policemen were posted on the border to wait for drug traffickers.

“The cops went to the mountains and held observation posts for more than three hours before their targets appeared … the distributors ran and hid in the hills and fired shots at the police … The police shot back and the local people came out and shot at the police, who had to call for back-up as there had been only eight of them.

“When back-up arrived, the distributors had run away … but the cops … chased them. They found the cargo abandoned … They also recovered AK 47s and pistols. The South Africans were at the border to receive the dagga …,” said Mdunge.

bhans@witness.co.za

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