Johannesburg – A series of events unfolded on the South African border with Mozambique on Monday night with soldiers ambushing undercover police officers and car tracking company members pursuing a hijacked truck and a bakkie.
Cowering on the ground from a volley of shots fired at them by soldiers who had been hiding in the bushes, the officers and car tracking agents were allegedly assaulted, kicked and then bundled into the back of a police van and driven to a police station.
But on Wednesday morning, conflicting reports of what exactly happened emerged, with Altech Netstar’s managing director Harry Louw saying police and agents were ambushed, with no warning shots fired, and army spokesman Brigadier General Xolani Mabanga saying the police vehicle was not marked. Mabanga’s version was that soldiers patrolling the border on Monday night heard a truck and bakkie speeding towards the border and subsequently crossing over into Mozambique.”The SANDF members then opened fire at the bakkie and the occupants of the bakkie ran away, abandoning the bakkie in Mozambique,” he said.
But soon after, the soldiers noticed two vehicles approaching the border at high speed from the direction of northern KwaZulu-Natal. They flagged the two vehicles down using a torch but when the vehicles failed to stop, they opened fire, shooting the tyres and bringing the two cars to a halt.
He said “both SAPS and Netstar members did not follow due protocol of informing the SANDF commander that they were chasing a suspected vehicle”, said Mabanga, adding that the two vehicles had no form of identification. But Louw disputed this, saying the police vehicle was clearly marked and that the recovery vehicle’s bright spotlights had given off enough light for soldiers to see markings on the police vehicle.
“The (sub contractor who does recovery work for Netstar) has opened charges of attempted murder against the officers. The vehicle is totally destroyed… it’s got bullet holes,” he said.
The truck, he said, had been stolen during an armed robbery in Northern KwaZulu-Natal and agents chasing the hijackers “drove into what was clearly an ambush”.
When shots were fired, “our agents dropped to the bottom of the car and only got out after the shooting stopped. Then shooting started again and out of the bushes came the SANDF and they arrested them… proceeded to assault all four of them, they were lying on the ground… they were kicked and hit and then locked up”, he said. It was only after the sub-contractor had driven through the night to the Manguz police station, arriving there at 4am, and “made them understand these were innocent people”, that the two officers and two agents were released, he said.
Source: IOL – South Africa
Soldiers ambush cops at SA-Moz border