The robbery of police stations for weapons and ammunition could be an inside job, according to Mpumalanga police spokesperson Selvy Mohlala. This follows the attack of a third police station in two years.
At midnight on Friday, three armed robbers attacked the Grootvlei Police Station in the small Mpumalanga mining town near Balfour and stole three 9mm pistols, one R5 rifle, one shotgun and about 180 live rounds of ammunition.
Mohlala said one pistol was confiscated from an officer while the rest were stolen from the safe.
On June 16 this year, armed robbers ambushed the police at the Kwaggafontein station at around 10pm and confiscated their firearms.
Back in September 2020, two men robbed the Badplass Police Station of an R5 rifle and two pistols, as well as ammunition.
Mohlala said that two suspects arrived at the Grootvlei Police Station on Friday evening around 6pm, claiming to be from Soshanguve and pretended that they wanted to report a domestic violence incident.
Mohlala added the robbers insisted that the door should be opened for them, and as soon as they entered, they drew out firearms and disarmed the two on-duty police officials. They then tied the officers with cables, forced them inside the holding cells and ransacked the police station, where they took keys to the safe and stole the said firearms with ammunition.
One civilian, who went to the station for help, was also held hostage as he arrived during the robbery.
Mohlala said that protecting police stations was a dicey matter. “There’s no one who can come from nowhere to rob a police station without having inside information. We suspect that someone among our members tips off the criminals about what weapons they will find there and how many officers are on duty.
In the Badplaas incident, a man came screaming, alleging that he was running away from attackers. When the police attended to him, another man emerged and pointed a firearm at them. The first man also drew out a firearm and they held the police hostage before stealing weapons and ammunition.
“There can be a barrier, a glass or something between the officers and members of the public but what if the complainant is a rape victim and needs not to be standing behind a glass lodging her complaint? It’s a dicey matter to deal with,” Mohlala said.
The robbery of police stations is spread across the country.
In January, Limpopo police arrested 10 people in Medinyeng Village near Kgapane in Limpopo, and another arrest was made in Dwarsloop outside Bushbuckridge in Mpumalanga, in connection with the robbery at Malamulele Police Station. The robbers allegedly stormed the CSC in November 2021 and robbed the officers on duty of their firearms. The officers were then locked in the back of a police van, while the gunmen stole R4 rifles, pump guns, pistols and ammunition from the safe.