A Qacha’s Nek-based sergeant died in a gun battle with stock-thieves allegedly from Matatiele in South Africa, who had pounced on Mosaqane village on Tuesday last week.
The bandits reportedly killed one villager on entering Mosaqane, before rounding up cattle and sheep belonging to different households and heading across the border.
Two police officers and four villagers were also said to have been critically wounded in the raid and subsequent shootout, which was confirmed by Qacha’s Nek Acting Police Commander, Superintendent Nthimo Nthimo, who however, would not give any details when contacted by the Sunday Express.
Superintendent Nthimo referred the Sunday Express to the Acting Police Spokesperson, Thato Ramarikhoane, who confirmed the shootout but also refused to say more about what transpired on the fateful day.
However, an officer who was part of the operation narrated the gunfight to the Sunday Express, which he said took place at around 8pm.
The officer, who refused to be named because he is not authorised to speak to the media on police business, said: “It was around 6pm when we received a tipoff that some thieves were wreaking havoc in Mosaqane. We were told that they had taken some cattle and sheep belonging to different villagers, at gunpoint, and then shot dead one of the residents.
“Before we could prepare ourselves for a drive to Mosaqane, another call came in, which said the thieves had shot four more villagers, three men and one woman, who had apparently tried to block them as they drove the livestock out of the village.”
“Mosaqane is situated in Qacha’s Nek and close to Matatiele in the Eastern Cape, South Africa, and this place is notorious for cross-border stock-theft. So once we heard about this crime, we knew we were in for a real fight.”
According to the officer, the thieves were heavily armed and appeared ready for war.
“When they arrived in the village, and we strongly believe they were from Matatiele in South Africa, the thieves shot one of the villagers in the chest, killing him instantly.
“But when we arrived in the village, the criminals were already gone. We then followed them and finally caught up with them at around 8pm.
“Soon after they saw us, the criminals seemed to disappear in the dark and then all of a sudden, gunfire erupted all over as if they had surrounded us. They continued firing non-stop so that we could not arrest them.
“We took cover, but unfortunately, three of us got shot, and the sergeant died on the scene. They must have thought we were all dead as they then left when the shooting stopped.”
According to the officer, some of the thieves must also have been injured during the shootout.
“We could hear their cries, but I believe they carried their injured colleagues with them to hide evidence. We never arrested anybody in the operation, but recovered spent shells, some of which were from AK47 rifles.”
Meanwhile, the Sunday Express has established that a troop from the Police Special Operations Unit (SOU) has since been deployed in Mosaqane following Tuesday’s gun battle.