A suspect was arrested on Tuesday after three armed men stole firearms from a Northern Cape police station on the weekend.
THE DIRECTORATE for Priority Crime Investigation (Hawks) is offering a R50,000 reward to any person who can provide information that could lead to the arrest and prosecution of suspects involved in the Tsineng police station robbery on the weekend.
A 41-year-old suspect was arrested following a tip-off on Tuesday.
A female police officer at Tsineng police station in the Northern Cape was held up at gunpoint and robbed of her cellphone, while the suspects also stole a large number of firearms and ammunition from the premises on Saturday, July 31, at around 9.40pm .
Three armed men entered the police station and threatened the police officer, who was alone at the time, and demanded that she hand over all available firearms and the keys to the safe.
The suspects took three R5 rifles with two magazines and 37 rounds of ammunition; two 12-bore pump actions with 103 rounds of ammunition; and eight 9mm pistols with five magazines and 98 rounds of ammunition.
The police officer was tied up and robbed of her cellphone.
Hawks provincial spokesperson Nomthandazo Mnisi said on Tuesday that more arrests were expected.
Mnisi explained that on the day of the incident the suspects had pretended to file a complaint. “While the police official was busy addressing them, one of the suspects jumped over the counter and pointed a firearm at her.
“The police official was then ordered to open a safe and the suspects managed to flee with eight pistols, three rifles and two shotguns with live ammunition.
“No shots were fired and no injuries were sustained.”
Anyone with information is requested to contact the Hawks’ investigating officers, Colonel Mgcineni Christopher Sityodana on 071 481 2802 or Warrant Officer Micheal Modise Bogacwi on 082 495 0819, or contact the police Crime Stop number 086 001 0111 or make use of the My SAPS app.
Mnisi said that all information provided would be treated with the strictest of confidence.
Meanwhile, the DA spokesperson for Transport, Safety and Liaison, Ofentse Mokae, pointed out on Tuesday that there were supposed to be four police officers on duty per shift at the Tsineng police station, which is located on the outskirts of Kuruman.
“One of the police officers was infected with Covid-19 and was booked off sick, while the other member was attending training in Kuruman. The third police officer, who was conducting patrols, ran out of fuel and had to refuel at a petrol station about 30 kilometres from the station. This resulted in one female police officer being left powerless when she was overpowered by her armed attackers,” said Mokae.
He added that the firearms that were stolen from the safe were service pistols and firearms belonging to the state.
“No arrests have been made yet and the Minister of Police, Bheki Cele, downplayed the incident. The police station provides services to 43 villages in the Joe Morolong district. This incident should not be taken lightly, because if the police are not safe from criminals, how are citizens supposed to feel safe in their own homes? Residents stated that they are afraid of going out at night as they feel vulnerable.”
Mokae believed that crime was spiralling out of control.
“Following the recent incidents of unrest and looting, firearms and ammunition were confiscated, leaving criminals in short supply. It is worrying that these firearms can be used to commit criminal offences.
“We are distrubed at how the incident unfolded, how could a single female police officer be left alone to man the station?
“The police need to beef up intelligence and put contingency plans and ensure extra surveillance is in place to prevent similar incidents from occurring.
“Thankfully, there was no loss of lives at Tsineng police station, although it could easily have been a very different outcome.”
Mokae was concerned that small, rural and under-resourced police stations were increasingly becoming targets of criminals.