Probe into shootout

2018-10-19 15:29
Police officers gather around the vehicle used by the alleged robbers after a confrontation in Hilton in March last year.

Police officers gather around the vehicle used by the alleged robbers after a confrontation in Hilton in March last year. (Ian Carbutt)

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The killing of five alleged robbers during a shootout with police in Hilton last year is going to be investigated.

Pietermaritzburg magistrate Chris van Vuuren has been tasked with conducting a formal inquest into the deaths of Sthabiso Ngcobo (19), Thokozani Njabulo Khanyile (31), Thuso Lebohang Kuali (26), Siyabonga Siphesihle Mfeka (24) and Ntobeko Mpumelelo Mswane (29).

They were killed on March 29.

Although all were from Pietermaritzburg, Ngcobo was a former pupil at the prestigious St Peter’s College in Sandton. He was reportedly shot six times.

Sergeant Jabulani Bushula was shot in the face as he pursued the men.

The inquiry came before Van Vuuren on Thursday. He said there would be 22 people to testify.

Six of the police officers present said they would like to apply for assistance from the state attorney.

The magistrate adjourned the matter to November 1, to give them time to make their applications for representation.

In March this year, the DPP indicated that a decision had been made not to prosecute anyone in connection with the incident.

The inquest follows a request by the families of the dead who have hired attorney Petrus Coetzee to represent them.

Five suspects (from left) Siyabonga Mfeka, Thuso Lebohang Kuali, Sthabiso Ngcobo, Ntobeko Mswane and Thokozani Khanyile were killed in a shootout with police. 

At one stage, a family member of Ngcobo’s — who was not named — was quoted saying that police were not giving them any explanation as to why their son was killed.

She said Ngcobo had four bullet holes in his chest, one in his arm and another in the back of his head.

“I am no expert, but by just looking at those bullet holes you can tell that he was shot at close range,” she said.

A family member of another of the suspected robbers also told The Witness that they still did not know how their son was killed.

At the time of the shooting, it was reported that the men were believed to be behind a spate of break-ins and robberies in the Hilton area.

A source said some of the gang members had links to the so-called “Williams gang”, who were involved in a shoot­out with police in Pietermaritzburg in 2016.

It was further reported that the suspects had robbed a bottle store in Howick before going to the Hilton area where they committed another robbery.

Police spokesperson Lieutenant-Colonel Thulani Zwane said police had received information that five men in a silver Mercedes-Benz had committed a robbery in the Hilton area. Police spotted the vehicle and the suspects started to fire at them.

Police gave chase and the men fired shots as they tried to escape. He added that the driver of the Mercedes lost control of the vehicle and it crashed into nearby bush.

Police confronted the men, killing all five in the gunfight.

Five unlicensed firearms were found in their possession as well as house-breaking implements.

Investigations revealed that the vehicle used was hijacked in the Newlands East area in August 2016.

Stolen items including alcohol and cigarettes were found at the scene.

Read more on:    pietermaritzburg

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