News24

Cops in chopper crash were going to robbery

2010-07-23 14:39

Pretoria - The police officers killed in a helicopter crash on Friday morning were en route to a shooting in Witbank, national police said.

"At 05:00 there was a break-in at business premises in Witbank. The suspects fired on the police and said they had a hostage," said spokesperson Sally De Beer.

Two helicopters with a number of officers were dispatched from Pretoria. One of them crashed, killing all seven people on board.

The other helicopter continued to the scene, where seven people were arrested. No hostage had in fact been taken, said De Beer.

According to ER24 paramedics, the accident occurred around 09:00 in a field near Verena Road in Clarinet, where the chopper was found burnt beyond recognition, spokesperson Werner Vermaak said.

Police Minister Nathi Mthethwa's spokesperson Zweli Mnisi said Mthethwa, accompanied by national police commissioner General Bheki Cele, arrived at the crash site just before 11:00.

The Democratic Alliance extended its condolences to the friends and relatives of the victims, and the broader police community.

"These members will be remembered for their bravery and their contribution to trying to make South Africa a safer place," shadow minister of police Dianne Kohler-Barnard said in a statement.