‘Frail’ tavern owner kills two police officers and wounds third

2011-05-20 00:00

A “FRAIL” tavern owner shot and killed the station commander of Creighton police station near Ixopo and another police officer, wounding a third in the leg yesterday afternoon.

The officers were in full uniform when they were attacked.

The incident happened a short distance from the police station at about 5 pm.

The suspect, who is a known tavern owner, fled on foot and disappeared into bush soon after the shooting. A large number of local police officers from Ixopo police station searched for him for more than four hours last night.

The Witness learnt that the police Dog Unit officers joined in the search. It was feared that he was armed with the handgun.

Police spokesperson, Brigadier Phindile Radebe said the second deceased and the wounded officers are constables.

“After shooting them he disappeared into the bush, and police are searching for him in large numbers. This man looks [really old]. He has no teeth and can no longer walk straight, but he managed to shoot at police officers and disappeared without a trace. This is really confusing,” said Sifiso Chiliza, a petrol attendant at Creighton Total Garage, across the road from the tavern.

Chiliza said the wounded police officer ran across the road from the tavern and collapsed at the garage with blood on his police uniform.

Chiliza said he heard that the officers had gone to the tavern to confiscate alcohol after they saw patrons drinking.

“While they were taking the beer the owner of the tavern appeared and opened fire at them,” said Chiliza.

A police officer, phoned at the scene, would only say “we are very disturbed by this incident”. He declined to comment further.

Radebe confirmed the incident. She said the officers were involved in an operation to closed down illegal taverns when they were shot and died at the scene.

“He shot them using a pistol and he fled on foot. The suspect is thought to be about 50-years-old,” she said.

A family member, who requested not to be named, said the family are worried the man might harm himself. He said the man is older than 60.

“We believe that as a person who has children, he is going to change his mind and hand himself over to the police,” he said.

“The family members are very worried about the situation and are trying hard to assist the police,” he said.

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