Riot Hlatshwayo

Riot Hlatshwayo

An AK-47-wielding 14-year-old Mozambican teenager died of a bullet wound when he and his 12-year-old brother attacked a farmer in the crime-ridden Marloth Park near Komatipoort in Mpumalanga on Wednesday.

The boys allegedly attacked the farmer, Alison Fitzgerald, when he and his family arrived home at about 5.20pm.

The older brother allegedly fired a shot at Fitzgerald with the AK-47 rifle and wounded him in the left-hand ring finger.

The boys ran away without taking anything from the house but were later spotted at a neighbouring farm belonging to Martins Landgoed, where they allegedly attempted to commit yet another armed robbery.

Police were called to the scene and a shootout ensued, leading to the older boy sustaining a bullet wound to the right thigh.

"An ambulance was summoned to take the injured boy to hospital.

"But the suspect died before he could be taken to hospital," Mpumalanga police spokesman Superintendent Malcolm Mokomeni said yesterday.

"We confiscated an AK-47 assault rifle with 13 live rounds and also arrested the young brother, who is expected to appear in court soon," he added.

Mokomeni confirmed that the suspects were the youngest criminals to be caught with an AK-47 assault rifle in South Africa as far as he was aware.

"I've never heard of a situation like this where teenage boys used such a big and heavy calibre weapon to commit a crime," Mokomeni said.

"But I'm aware that in some countries young boys are trained as soldiers.

"That might be a contributing factor, considering that these boys are believed to hail from Mozambique."

Marloth Park is notorious for armed robberies, with some resulting in the death of victims over the years.

The police said most of the attacks were carried out by criminals from neighbouring countries.

Most of these criminals apparently skip the borders with the intention of making a fast buck in South Africa by committing robberies or burglaries," Mokomeni said.

The dead boy could not immediately be identified because police were still trying to find his next of kin and where precisely he came from.