Prayer service held at Ngcobo police station after massacre

2018-02-21 21:12

East London - As the rain poured in Ngcobo, devastated police officers, government officials and residents prayed outside the Ngcobo police station after pathologists removed four bodies - that of three police officers and a soldier.

Provincial police commissioner Lieutenant General Liziwe Ntshinga, who had been at the horror scene since early hours, was joined by transport, safety and liaison MEC Weziwe Tikana, ANC provincial chairman Oscar Mabuyane and local priests to pray for healing after the horror killing of the officers at the police station.

Police Minister Fikile Mbalula, who asked to be excused from Parliament, also arrived in Ngcobo, along with national police commissioner General Khehla Sitole, around 16:00.

Mbalula spoke after the prayer and he hoped by the time the hero cops would be buried, their killers would be behind bars.

'We must be ready for these thugs'

"This tragedy must change the situation in our police stations. We must be ready for these thugs all around our country."

"Our police stations must not close down because we must continue to do our jobs."

"General Sithole and chairman Mabuyane, we will visit the bereaved families and bury these heroes the way they deserve," he said.

He added that the children of the dead cops will be sent to school until their finish.

Mabuyane said the incident is a message that thugs are doing as they please and calls for the community to work with the cops in capturing the thugs.

"We send our condolences to the families. Cops are fighting to keep us safe and we must also do our part to ensure that they are safe and people must report crime ASAP. We wish something like this never happens again," added Mabuyane.

As the prayers were held inside the police station, the police van of an additional two police officers - whose bodies were found later in the morning - was wheeled into the police station with its front damaged.

The unknown gunmen, who apparently covered their faces with balaclavas, are said to have bombed a Capitec ATM just after midnight and of making off with an undisclosed amount of money.

Then their killing spree began. They entered Ngcobo police station and without warning, opened fire on officers who were on duty.

Two members were killed instantly and the retired soldier, who rushed to the scene, was shot dead as the suspects fled.

News24 previously reported that national police spokesperson Vishnu Naidoo said three officers were killed at the police station. However, Eastern Cape police spokesperson Captain Khaya Tonjeni clarified that only two were killed inside the community service centre.

Another officer, who was also shot but survived, has been discharged from hospital.

An unmarked police van returning from patrols, encountered the suspects at the station's exit.

The suspects shot at the van, killing one police officer. The second officer pretended to be dead as the suspects took their firearms.

Soon afterwards, a marked SAPS van also returned from patrols and the gunmen shot both occupants dead.

Their bodies were loaded into the van and gunmen drove about six kilometres, near Nyanga High School.

Once they reached a steep hill, they released the van down the slope until it crashed at the bottom.

The police van where killed cops' bodies were hidden is brought inside the Ngcobo police station. (Ziyanda Zweni, Daily Sun)

The two officers' bodies were discovered in the early hours of yesterday.

Female officers at the station were unharmed but were traumatised and were attended to by counsellors.

According to preliminary investigations, it appears that members were shot execution style.

The suspects are said to have stolen 10 weapons from the police station, including two rifles. Ten officers were on duty at the station at the time of the tragedy.

Worried residents

Ntshinga vowed that the suspects would be caught, hopefully by the end of the day, and that a massive countrywide manhunt was under way, which the community also participating in.

Chairperson of Parliament's Portfolio Committee on Police, Francois Beukman, said the killing of the six officers was a national tragedy.

"The committee extends its heartfelt condolences to the families of the killed officers, their colleagues in the South African Police Service (SAPS) and to the community of Ngcobo," he said.

The Ngcobo police station is under heavy guard following the killing of 5 officers. (Ziyanda Zweni, Daily Sun)


Meanwhile worried residents have called for more to be done to ensure the safety of police, especially those who work night shifts.

Zandisile Xhakashe  said he heard the gunshot and thought that a robbery was happening at a nearby township.

"The gunshots went on for some time and then become quiet and started again. I woke up and heard that the shooting happened at the police station. I was worried sick because my cousin also works there," said Xhakashe.

Meanwhile Nompindelo Makaleni said popular TV shows such as Uzalo, that portray gangsterism, was the to blame for the attack.

"This is sad. Innocent people died in a brutal manner. More police need to be deployed here, even [the] military is needed. People see the violent acts in shows and do them in real life," she said.

Read more on:    east london  |  crime  |  ngcobo massacre

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