Dog a hero in hijack

2015-02-24 00:00

CHAMP the police dog did his name justice yesterday when he tenaciously grabbed onto the hijack suspect that shot and wounded him, resulting in an arrest.

The foiled hijacking of a cigarette delivery van resulted in a shootout that left one suspect dead, another barely alive, two policemen wounded and Champ now sporting his own battle scar.

He is recovering well after receiving treatment.

The mayhem — which eventually saw the Durban SAPS deploy its helicopter and Tactical Response Team — ended with a massive manhunt scouring the Ntuzuma township for the armed suspects. At the time of going to press, two men were still at large.

According to the police, four armed men hijacked the British-American ­Tobacco (BAT) delivery van close to the Ntuzuma police station yesterday morning.

Shortly after the hijacking was ­reported, a police patrol vehicle ­approached the stolen van but came under intense gunfire, forcing the police vehicle down an embankment. Two ­officers were wounded — one in the stomach and the other in the shoulder.

The suspects, armed with pistols, fled after splitting up into two groups.

The Durban Central Dog Unit chased the suspects, finding them hiding in a shack.

It was while pursuing another ­suspect that Champ, a German Shepherd with the K9 unit, was shot.

According to police he went for the suspect, who wounded him. But this did not deter Champ from pinning him down, giving his two-legged colleagues a chance to arrest the man.

Over 40 police officers, private ­security guards, Durban Metro Police and Road Traffic Inspectorate officials were eventually on the scene from various stations in the Durban North area, some of them heavily armed.

Large crowds gathered around the cordoned-off area, recording the scene on their cellphones. The crowd repeatedly breached the police tape and had to be forced back each time. At one stage they were threatened with being sprayed with mace.

The wounded suspect was taken to Albert Luthuli Hospital under police guard.

Police spokesperson Colonel Jay ­Naicker said the injured constables and police dog are receiving treatment.

“Two firearms were recovered by police during the shootout. Police at Ntuzuma are investigating cases of armed robbery, attempted murder and an inquest. A manhunt is under way for the remaining two men,” said Naicker.

BAT had not responded at the time of going to press.

• jonathan.erasmus@witness.co.za

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