Fake cops bust

2012-11-19 00:00

TWO weeks ago, a group of five men tried to rob a business in Woodlands, but were foiled by a guard who would not allow them into the building.

The men left, but returned on Saturday, posing as police officers. Being in uniform, two looked the part, while the others carried police appointment cards.

The men, aged from 36 to 52, held up staff at PPL Scrapyard in Lincoln Road and got away with an undisclosed amount of money.

Fortunately, eagle-eyed locals realised all was not as it seemed, and contacted Mountain Rise police station. The men were soon nabbed by the real men in blue and investigations are underway to determine where the robbers acquired their uniforms.

Mountain Rise station commander Brigadier Francis Bantham said police had received a tip after locals became suspicious of the men’s dress.

“One of them was wearing a shirt under his uniform, and we [police officers] don’t wear shirts like that,” she said.

Police spokesperson Joey Jeevan said officers were on their way to Woodlands when they spotted a red car fitting the description they had been given of the men’s vehicle.

The car was stopped and searched, and the five men were arrested.

The men were found with five cellphones, four wallets, two guns, and fake and genuine police identification cards.

The genuine identification card was believed to have belonged to a reservist from Mpendle who has been discharged from the police service.

It was not clear yesterday where the men got the police uniforms and their identification cards.

“The five suspects were arrested and charged for unlicensed possession of firearms, armed robbery and impersonating police officers,” said Jeevan, adding that they would appear in court soon.

Zweli Mnisi, spokesperson for Police Minister Nathi Mthethwa, said they would have to look internally to get to the bottom of criminals impersonating police officers.

He described it as a serious offence that could have a negative impact on the public’s trust of the police.

“We have to look internally and find out how these uniforms and firearms are getting into the hands of criminals,” he said.

The DA’s spokesperson on police matters, Dianne Kohler Barnard, said: “It is either that criminals strip officers naked and take off with their uniforms, and I have never heard of that happening, or police officers are lending out their uniforms and firearms.”

She called on the police to track down the owners of the uniforms used by the men.

KwaZulu-Natal violence monitor Mary de Haas also called for a thorough investigation, saying there had been many similar instances before.

“They mustn’t just charge them, but they [police] must investigate and find out where they got those uniforms,” she said.

Not long after the men were arrested yesterday, police were tipped off about an armed teenager wearing an army uniform.

The 18-year-old was arrested in Sobantu and charged with the illegal possession of an unlicensed firearm.

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