THE deaths of two police officers, who were shot dead during a shoot out with other police officers in Dalton on October 3, raised major questions among residents with some alleging that the officers were killed and framed in the incident. It is alleged that Sergeant Celani Gwamanda (40) and Constable Nonhlanhla Mngoma (33) were driving on the road in the early hours of Thursday morning when the incident took place. It is alleged that the officers had been involved in a break-in that occurred at a local post office prior to the shooting.
Residents took to social media to share their views, with Slie Magagula saying: “This story sounds fabricated.”
Thembile Dingiswayo Attorneys posted on the Greytown Gazette Facebook page: “It is not prove[n] that the two police officers worked with each other to commit the crime of housebreaking, or who alerted the murderous police officers that the couple indeed committed the burglary. What if the two police officers are the ones who caught the murderous police officer’s red-handed and that a plan [was] hatched to look like the opposite took place. Did the deceased fire at the living police? Were there fingerprints lifted from the crime scene to link the deceased with the burglary? Did they deserve to be killed? Too many questions, [not enough] answers. Why must we believe the version of the killers? May the souls of the departed rest in peace.”
Angel Ngubane said: “[I am] wondering who those officers are, criminals hiding under those badges.”
It is believed that a team comprising of members from Crime Intelligence, the Hawks, the National Intervention Unit and other departments were conducting operations to address crime patterns in the areas of Dalton, Greytown and Wartburg.
National police spokesperson Brigadier Vishnu Naidoo told the Gazette that the team was travelling on the road between Greytown and Dalton when they spotted a police patrol vehicle approaching them in the vicinity of the Seven Oaks area.
“The team tried to flag down the police patrol vehicle but, instead of stopping, the sergeant from the patrol vehicle allegedly opened fire on the team, which had to return fire. Both police officers in the patrol vehicle were killed.” According to the police, an angle grinder, jack hammer and other house-breaking implements as well as ink-stained cash were found inside the patrol vehicle. The suspects’ vehicle was riddled with bullets.
Naidoo added: “It is believed that the cash was stolen from the Dalton Post Office.”
Acting national spokesperson for the Independent Police Investigative Directorate (IPID) Sontaga Seisa said: “A report of a death as a result of police action was received by IPID where two alleged robbers were shot and killed. It is alleged that the killed suspects are members of the SAPS.
“The information is that National Intervention Unit members were responding to [an] imminent armed robbery in the area when shooting ensued between the robbers and the police which resulted in the death of two ‘police robbers’. Nobody has been arrested.”
Police appealed to anyone who has any information on crime to contact the SAPS Crime Stop number at 086 00 10111.