3 alleged cop killers appear in North West court

Brits - Three men, accused of gunning down a policeman during a shopping mall robbery in Bapong near Brits in the North West, briefly appeared in court on Monday.

The matter against Thulani Mtshali, Mduduzi Gumede and Bhekizitha Madondo was postponed to January 18 for a bail application.

The three are facing charges of armed robbery and murder after allegedly shooting dead Constable John Mokotedi, 36, at the Keyarona shopping mall on November 4.

Mokotedi and his crew were on a routine patrol in the area when they came across the gang of armed men. They had just robbed a clothing shop in the mall and started firing at the police.

Mokotedi, who was driving the police car, was shot in the head and died on the scene. His colleague was not injured.

He was the first policeman to be killed in the line of duty in the North West province this year, while at least 82 police officers having been killed countrywide this year.

The three men were arrested by a multi-disciplinary task team established to investigate police killings in the North West province.

North West police spokesperson Captain Paul Ramaloko said four handguns had been confiscated during their arrest.

"The guns were sent to the laboratory for ballistic tests, to establish the extent to which they may have been used to commit crimes," he said. 

"The arrest is believed to have greatly dented the syndicate. The gang had been mostly involved in retail shops robberies in the North West and other provinces."

In a separate incident, a 23-year-old man, accused of hijacking and killing another policeman, was denied bail at the Brits Magistrate's Court last week.

Samuel Maphanga and two other men allegedly shot and wounded Warrant Officer Sipho Sithole in Letlhabile, near Brits, on the night of November 14.  Sithole, who was off duty, later died in hospital. 

Maphanga was expected to appear again in court on February 5, while the police continue to hunt for his two accomplices.

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