South Africa’s Independent Police Investigative Directorate (IPID) said a group of suspected armed robbers who on Monday exchanged extensive gunfire with police officers in Rosettenville, Gauteng appeared to be well trained and proficient in the use of firearms.
According to South African police, the heavily-armed group comprised South Africans, a Botswana national and Zimbabweans. Said IPID spokesperson Grace Langa:
Our investigators have just left the scene now, they are exhausted. They picked up about a hundred bullets from the scene. They were still picking some this morning.
It really looks very bad. Some of the deceased robbers were found in people’s yards.
Imagine getting to your house and there you found somebody’s body. They were also shooting at police.
Some of the bullets are on the roofs of some of the houses in that area. It is a very big scene that will take quite a lot to complete in investigating.
Langa said they will not judge but the criminals looked well-trained and experienced in the use of firearms. She said:
Even the manner in which they were shooting at the police, it looks like people who are well trained.
The allegation is that the suspect from Botswana who was arrested is a mastermind.
I mean, a person leaves Botswana and comes to commit a crime in South Africa and becomes a mastermind of the crime. It is saddening.
We don’t want to judge. I’m just gonna leave it at that. IPID is doing its job, only to investigate. The rest, we leave it to the courts.
She said IPID had taken the firearms of the police officers who were involved in the gunfight with the suspected criminals. Said Langa:
So far we have got about 50 names of police officers who were involved. We are going to collect their statements as well.
Some of them were really not in a good state. I was there last night when investigators were interviewing them. Some are really traumatised.
Meanwhile, ten of the suspects appeared before the Johannesburg Magistrate’s Court on Wednesday, 23 February.
They face charges of murder, attempted murder, possession of unlicensed firearms and ammunition, possession of explosives, possession of hijacked vehicles and conspiracy to commit a cash-in-transit heist.
According to The South African, six of the suspects were identified as South African: Sihle Mazibuko, 35, Qaphela, Ngubeni, 33, Menzi Shabalala, 47, Hloniphani Dube, 40, Mike Ngwadi, 47 and Kitso Mnguni, 45.
The remaining suspects are believed to be from Zimbabwe: Alex Matshebele, 40, Phendula Mvubu, 44, Andrew Tshobolo, 67, and Khulekani Nkosi, 36.
Directorate for Priority Crime Investigation (Hawks) spokesperson Brigadier Thandi Mbambo said:
The case has been postponed to 3 March 2022 for verification of addresses as well as legality confirmation by identified foreign nationals.