On Saturday 15 July 2017, at around 19:00, I was off duty and took my family to pick up a few things from a café in Swartruggens near the N4, using my private vehicle. I had parked my vehicle in the parking area opposite the café and decided not to accompany my family. A few minutes later, a white Polo parked behind my car and the driver also went inside the café.
While I was still inside my car I noticed that my wife forgot her purse and I decided to take it to her. As I was approaching the entrance to the café, but before I could gain entry, I heard gunshots. I stopped and turned back to check what was happening. I saw two African males standing on the right-hand side of the Polo. One of the men opened the door and occupied the driver’s seat while the other ran to open the passenger door - however, the door was locked so he couldn't open it. He then tried another door which he also failed to open. He then ran to the driver's door and the man who had occupied the seat got out so the other man could enter via that door to occupy the front passenger’s seat.
That’s when I started to become suspicious that something wrong was happening. I managed to get the Polo’s vehicle registration number, just before they sped off from the parking lot.
Immediately after the Polo had left, I saw an African male lying on the road. He informed me that he had been hijacked and shot. I asked the café owner to call the police and report the incident. I got into my car and gave chase since I spotted the direction they were headed in - they were still driving without lights on the N4 road until to about the R509, the road which leads to Koster, when they switched the vehicle’s lights on.
While following the vehicle, I contacted Koster Police Station and informed them that I was chasing a suspect driving a hijacked vehicle and that they should block the road. As we were driving towards Koster, the suspect turned away into the township. I continued updating the community service centre about the location.
As I chased the vehicle I noticed a police van was approaching, but, due to the speed at which the hijacked vehicle was driving, at a curve, it lost control and drove into a fenced yard. The vehicle came to a standstill, but both suspects fled the scene. The hijacked vehicle was recovered and Swartruggens CAS 12/07/2017 was opened with two counts of murder; attempted robbery and robbery aggravating (car hijacking).
D/Const S Mokowe
(It is heart-warming to read stories about police members being willing to put themselves on duty to fight crime. Keep it up Constable, and all the other members to whom gratitude is expressed in this month's letters column! Ed.)