Police snipers commended


National police commissioner Bheki Cele has commended Special Task Force snipers for shoting dead two kidnappers during a robbery-turned hostage-taking in the Free State on Tuesday morning.

“For any eventuality on land, sea and air, our Special Task Force responds decisively and accordingly for the benefit of fellow South Africans. However this is indeed a clear message that criminals must retreat, police are equal to the task and are determined to squeeze the space for criminals to zero”, said Cele.

A police statement says the snipers were deployed robbers attacked and assaulted a Mr Flip Kotze (60) on his farm in Uitvlug in the Petrusburg area on Monday morning.

“The suspects robbed Kotze of a revolver a Winchester rifle and cell phone and tied him to a pole outside his house. They fled in his double cab bakkie,” the statement says.

Kotze managed to free himself and alerted neighbouring farmers although he had sustained injuries to his head and had a broken arm.

“Farmers in the nearby vicinity were mobilised. At approximately 3pm yesterday, two … brothers from a neighbouring farm spotted the suspects and tried to apprehend them but the suspects overpowered and held them hostage in the bakkie.

“One of the brothers managed to escape from the bakkie whilst they were driving in the direction of Bloemfontein on the Abrahamskraal Road at Bainsvlei. Mr Gerhard Venter (50) however was still with the suspects in the bakkie.

“Bloemfontein police cordoned off the Abrahamskraal Road where the suspects were travelling. The suspects threatened to kill Mr Venter if they were not freed. Police negotiators tried to negotiate with the suspects, to no avail.

The SAPS Special Task Force was called in for high risk intervention and subsequently the two suspects were fatally wounded without causing further injuries to the hostage. Venter was freed and treated for shock by medical emergency personnel,” the statement added.

Two revolvers, a 06 Winchester rifle and a 357 Magnum were recovered by the police.

Police spokesman Senior Superintendent Vishnu Naidoo declined to say what weapons were used by the STF in the incident, citing security concerns as well as a concern for disclosing tradecraft.

Pic: Two STF commandos during a training exercise at AFB Swartkop, Pretoria, in March. THey are armed with Heckler & Koch MP5 submachine guns, a staple of such units for many years.