Bloody churchyard gun battle leaves 7 suspected cop killers dead in Engcobo

24 February 2018 - 06:49 By Malibongwe Dayimani And Kgothatso Madisa
Police secure the area after the shootout on Friday.
Police secure the area after the shootout on Friday.
Image: SAPS

A bloody exchange of gunfire in a churchyard on Friday evening left seven suspected Engcobo cop-killers dead.

The Hawks cornered the gang at their hideout in a church in Nyanga village near Engcobo on Friday night. Seven suspected gang members were killed during the shootout‚ 10 were arrested and others escaped. One police officer was wounded and rushed to a hospital.

“The group‚ which uses a church as a hiding place‚ was cornered inside the church premises. A gun battle between suspects and police ensued, which left seven suspects dead and a task force team member injured in the leg‚” the Hawks said in a statement.

“An unknown number of suspects managed to escape and are currently being sought by the police. A number of firearms have been confiscated.”

A gang raided a police station in Engcobo on Wednesday and three officers and an off-duty soldier died in the execution-style attack on the police station‚ located between Mthatha and Queenstown. The bodies of two more officers were found about 6km away. Another police officer died later in hospital.

Officers on the scene after Friday's shootout.
Officers on the scene after Friday's shootout.
Image: SAPS

Ten police firearms and a police van were stolen in the attack.

Police Minister Fikile Mbalula said former policemen and soldiers were believed to be behind the attack.

“Some of the criminals are retired police members and military people. You see how they shot here at Engcobo police station. They are well trained‚” Mbalula was quote as saying in the Sowetan.

Eastern Cape health department spokesman Sizwe Kupelo on Friday evening confirmed that the person was injured during the shootout was being treated at All Saints Hospital in Engcobo.

Kupelo said: “Forensic pathology have also been dispatched to the scene of the shooting for collection of the bodies.”

The wounded person would be referred to Nelson Mandela Academic Hospital‚ he said.

Mbalula was expected to hold a press briefing in Engcobo on Saturday morning on the latest developments in the case.