Police Minister Fikile Mbalula says President Cyril Ramaphosa has given them 72 hours to apprehend the suspects who shot and killed five police officers and a retired soldier at Ngcobo Police Station in the Eastern Cape.
Mbalula has been addressing members of the South African Police Services and the community members outside the police station on Wednesday afternoon.
The minister assured the community of Ngcobo that the police station will be upgraded to ensure safety of police officers. He has also urged members of the public to come forward with information that will lead to the arrest of the suspects.
Police say a group of balaclava-clad attackers entered the Ngcobo Police Station in the early hours of Wednesday morning. They shot dead three police officers while two others were gunned down near the gate while returning to check a crime scene of an alleged attempted ATM robbery.
It is not the first time that the station has come under attack. Late last year, gunmen who had just robbed a local bank entered the station and demanded guns before they shot and killed a police officer.
It is believed that the motive behind the attack is weapons as the suspects made off with firearms.
Angry residents say they do not feel safe and are calling for government’s intervention.
“We want cameras at the station because it is not safe,” says one of the residents.
The shooting has not only shocked the community of Ngcobo, but the entire country as it drew the attention of National Police Minister Fikile Mbalula and Police Commissioner Khehla Sithole.
Minister Mbalula promised that the station will be upgraded by installation of cameras, metal detectors and tightened security at the entrance.
“This upgrade at the station is necessary. I can assure you that this police station will not be closed. We need to ensure that our police officers are safe.”
Mbalula says they will not rest until the perpetrators have been brought to book.
“We only have 72 hours to apprehend the trash who did this. We will do everything in our power to make sure that we catch them.”
National Police Commissioner Khehla Sithole also shares Mbalula’s sentiments.
“We want those criminals dead or alive. They must be put behind bars.”
Police and Prisons Civil Rights Union (Popcru) has condemned the incident.
Popcru Spokesperson Richard Mamabolo says the safety of police officers nationally is under threat.
“Of course, I think it is worrying for safety in South Africa in general, and I am sure the community as well must be worried about this. We are gathering information around this matter and we will be issuing a statement around this matter.”
It is not the first time that a police station is attacked in Transkei region of the province.
In 2006, three people died outside Mqanduli police station when unknown gunmen stormed the station shot them before stealing firearms and ammunition.
Police have launched a manhunt for the gunmen.
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