Soldiers deployed on border protection duty in northern KwaZulu-Natal on Monday fired shots at a vehicle belonging to a tracking company apparently in pursuit of stolen cars being driven to Mozambique.
South African National Defence Force (SANDF) Director: Corporate Communications, Brigadier General Xolani Mabanga, said the incident happened at around 9.30pm and started when soldiers heard a truck followed by a bakkie speeding in the direction of the border.
“The SANDF members then opened fire on the bakkie and the occupants of the bakkie ran away abandoning it in Mozambique. While on the scene a few minutes later the soldiers noticed two vehicles approaching their position at high speed from the northern part of KZN. In an attempt to stop the vehicles, they used a torch signalling the vehicles to stop, but the vehicles did not stop forcing the SANDF members to open fire on the front vehicle causing the vehicle to stop due to deflated tyre. The vehicles were later identified as belonging to Netstar and SAPS. No signal or form of identity on the vehicles was visible to the SANDF members at the time of shooting. Both vehicles were stopped and the occupants of the two vehicles were apprehended by the Military Police,” Mabanga said in a statement.
Those arrested were taken to Manguzi police station where they were identified as policemen and employees of Netstar. Mabanga added “it was later established they were chasing the truck and a bakkie”.
He said neither the police nor the tracking company employees followed “due protocol” of informing the SANDF commander in the area they were chasing suspected stolen vehicles.
A social media posting on the incident said: “Tom and Miles from Netstar have been arrested with two members from Border Police Operational Response Service (ORS) about 200m from the border fence while they were tracking two hijacked vehicles. The SANDF opened fire on the Netstar vehicle which Tom was driving and shot it badly.
“Luckily both Tom and Miles escaped with minor injuries. Both were arrested and disarmed by the SANDF and assaulted before detained in MP vehicles.
“The SAPS officers were also arrested and detained in another vehicle and also disarmed. Looking at Tom’s vehicle it is unbelievable they made it out alive, never mind without being wounded. The SANDF did not allow us to talk to them before they were taken to Emanguzi SAPS. The SANDF could not or did not want to tell us what the charges against them are,” the post read.
SAPS spokesman Colonel Jay Naicker is quoted by News24 as saying: “the tracking company vehicle had 15 bullet holes. Nobody was injured. Two SAPS members and two members of the tracking company were arrested by SANDF members, but have subsequently been released.
“A case of attempted murder has been registered at the Emanguzi Police Station. The incident will be investigated in its entirety to establish exactly what transpired.”
Mabanga said a military board of inquiry has been convened to “determine the circumstances surrounding the incident”.