Johannesburg Metro Police officer Xolile Matyobeni earned the moniker "Clint Eastwood" after shooting an armed criminal in the hand, forcing him to drop the firearm he was brandishing at a policeman.
His sharpshooting skills and the swift action of his colleagues, constables Bafana Twala and Tshifhiwa Tshiovhe, led to the arrest of two criminals in Alexandra, northern Johannesburg.
During their crime spree the two suspects had raped a woman, robbed her companion and hijacked a minibus taxi.
Matyobeni, Twala and Tshiovhe were among scores of police officers rewarded for their bravery and commitment to service at a ceremony in Germiston, Ekurhuleni.
Matyobeni, who has been a Metro Police officer for two years, said he was happy to be recognised for his efforts.
The awards ceremony was held to honour the successful partnership between the Johannesburg flying squad and the Metro Police department.
Since the unit's formation in October the number of arrests for crimes such as vehicle theft and possession of unlicensed firearms has doubled, according to flying squad commander and head of police emergency services director Tirhani Maswanganyi.
Maswanganyi said the squad had arrested 269 criminals, compared with 96 at the end of September, recovered 97 vehicles and confiscated 28 illegal firearms.
"The formation of the unit was the first time that the Metro Police and South African Police Service worked together.
"Some said the unit was doomed to fail but we made history," JMPD director David Tembe said.
Maswanganyi said working with the JMPD had improved the flying squad's response time and their visibility in communities.
The ceremony took place yesterday.