Lockdown: 4 East London cops accused of robbing, extorting liquor store owner in fake raid

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Four East London police officers will appear in the East London Magistrate's Court on Tuesday on charges of aggravated robbery, corruption, kidnapping and defeating the ends of justice.

The constables from the K-9 unit – aged between 25 and 35 – were arrested on Sunday by Hawks and Anti-Corruption Unit investigators after receiving information linking them to alleged armed robberies.

A robbery allegedly took place on Wednesday, 29 April, at a local business in Fleet Street. According to the reports, the accused had conducted a fake Covid-19 raid at a liquor store, before robbing the owner.

Provincial police spokesperson Brigadier Thembinkosi Kinana said the four were currently in court for a formal bail hearing.

Kinana said investigations were continuing and that more arrests were expected.

"Preliminary investigation suggested that the four constables had visited the business premises in Fleet Street as part of their work and following a fabricated allegation of sale of alcohol. It is alleged that, on entering the premises, in full police uniform, they handcuffed the owner and led him to a point in his house where they conducted a search.

"They later threatened to charge and detain him for keeping a large amount of money in the business premises and, for this, they extorted an undisclosed amount of money in order to save himself from detention.

SAPS 'not a habitat for criminal elements'

"The same night, an armed robbery was reported in the same business premises, allegedly carried out by eight unknown male suspects, three of whom were dressed in police uniform, said Kinana.

An undisclosed amount of cash was taken.

"The investigation also revealed that the suspects had demanded a bribe and further threatened to arrest the owner for money laundering," said Kinana.

The incident has been condemned by Eastern Cape police commissioner Lieutenant-General Liziwe Ntshinga.

The constables were arrested during early Sunday morning raids on their houses, Kinana said.

During an interrogation of the officers, an amount of R10 000 cash and their cellphones were seized.

"The system is ready to flush out all those who render themselves irrelevant in our calling to serve and protect our communities with dignity, professionalism and ethical conduct. The SAPS is not a habitat for criminal elements masquerading as loyal police officials. Therefore, the long arm of the law must take its course. We are not apologetic about our stand in this regard," Ntshinga said.

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