Cops kill two heist suspects

2008-11-23 00:00

Police have shot dead two more suspects wanted for the murder of policemen Inspector Samuel Dludla and Constable Vincent Sithole, who died in a hail of bullets as they escorted a pension payout vehicle at Maphumulo on November 9.

Two other officers sustained serious injuries in the gun battle after 16 men opened fire on them.

The two suspects were shot dead in a morning raid on their homestead in Melmoth, northern KZN.

This brings to four the number of suspects killed by police after they opened fire on police as they tried to arrest them for the murders.

Senior Superintendent Jay Naicker said in a statement this weekend that on Saturday morning, members of the Durban organised crime unit and the national intervention unit’s tactical group swooped on the homestead.

“Information gathered indicated that suspects wanted for the murder of two policemen … were holed up in the identified homestead.”

Naicker said that at 3 am police began searching rooms on the homestead and in the commotion that followed, two of the suspects came out with “guns blazing”.

Police returned fire, fatally wounding the two men. Both suspects were in possession of 9 mm pistols. The suspects, Velaphi Bongani Biyela (41) and Khanyisani Buthelezi (19), were also wanted for other offences, including cash-in-transit robberies, said Naicker.

Speaking to The Witness yesterday, Naicker said criticism that police are shooting suspects without due cause is unfounded. “I am just glad that another policeman did not die in the shoot-out.”

The Institute for Security Studies raised concerns following the killing of seven suspects in the murder of Kranskop police station commissioner Senior Superintendent Zethembe Chonco in August.

After the killings, another suspect was granted a court interdict preventing police from harming him. “When a criminal is shot dead there is an uproar, but when a policeman is shot dead, there is silence. These criminals are out to kill policemen. We know the circumstances we are working under. They have shown us they won’t hesitate,” said Naicker.

He said police receive ongoing training on how to defend themselves. “It is very difficult … We don’t want to shoot suspects, but when the suspect starts shooting at us, we have to play it as we see it.”

He said police are instructed to wear their bulletproof jackets.

Nhlanhla Masondo was killed in kwaMashu on November 12 after he resisted arrest and another suspect was killed when he resisted arrest in Durban’s Inanda area.

“The gloves are off. The message to the criminals is that we will meet fire with fire,” said KZN commissioner Hamilton Ngidi, at the time.

Naicker said five suspects have been arrested for the heist and police are hunting more suspects.

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