Off-duty officers shot while investigating gunshot near homes

2012-12-14 00:00

TWO high-ranking Estcourt police officers are recovering after they were shot, allegedly by an armed robber, on Wednesday night.

One was critically wounded and the other is recovering from surgery to his shoulder.

Station commander Colonel Oscar du Preez woke up at about 2 am after hearing a gunshot in his Beechwood Road neighbourhood.

Mindful that his area had suffered a spate of house robberies, Du Preez phoned his colleague Captain Derrick Radebe, who lives nearby. They met and went on foot to investigate where they thought the gunshot had come from. An assailant shot at them at close range.

Provincial police spokesperson Colonel Jay Naicker said Radebe was shot in the abdomen while Du Preez was shot in the shoulder.

Naicker said the officers returned fire but it was not clear whether the suspect was hit during the exchange of gunfire. He said it is understood that a house in the neighbouring Welsh Road was broken into by an armed robber who stole a laptop and fled on foot.

“The description of the suspect in the housebreaking fits that of the suspect who shot at the police,” said Naicker. He said the officers’ action was testimony to their dedication to serve their community. “We commend the bravery of the two officers. They are both in stable condition in hospital and we wish them a speedy recovery,” said Naicker.

Police are investigating cases of attempted murder. Attempts by The Witness to speak to the families of the officers and the housebreaking victim were unsuccessful.

Estcourt police spokesperson Captain J.S. Sokhela said both the officers had instructed their families not to speak to the media at this stage.

“At this stage the officers wish not to comment. Also, divulging any information about the robbery victim can jeopardise the investigation,” said Sokhela.

Area community policing forum chairperson Mandlenkosi Shandu said he was shocked to hear that officers were attacked trying to help in the community.

“We have noticed that the small towns are now targeted by criminals who know that the security systems are not as tight as those of big cities,” said Shandu.

Police and Prisons Civil Rights Union spokesperson Siza Maphumulo said although this was painful to the families, the officers displayed their dedication to their jobs for the safety of their community.

“They acted beyond the call of duty, protecting their community, but it’s unfortunate that they were wounded,” said Maphumulo.

• mlondi.radebe@witness.co.za

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