crime unit boss shot by 'hitmen'

MPUMALANGA police have not ruled out the possibility that yesterday's shooting of the organised crime unit boss was a hit from within their ranks.

Superintendent Obed Ngwenya, the unit's commander, was shot four times by unknown gunmen in the early hours of yesterday morning.

Ngwenya was wounded in his right leg and arm, and is recovering in the provincial hospital.

The incident comes in the wake of Ngwenya's decision to restructure the organised, serious and violent crimes units after mandrax tablets worth R3,75million vanished under the noses of the police in Nelspruit recently.

Police spokesperson Leonard Hlathi said yesterday they could not rule out the possibility that the hit may be an inside job.

"If indeed they are among us, they should know that they are just a small group against a big organisation. We will not bow down and cannot be stopped by people who want to further their own interests.

"This is war. We will fight tooth and nail to arrest the perpetrators," Hlathi said.

Ngwenya was shot outside his house at about 6.30am after he emptied a dustbin.

"When he went back into the house he was followed by gunmen with an R5 rifle, who started firing at him without saying anything," Hlathi said.

He said the suspects had used a red Toyota Corolla with Mpumalanga registration number and a green Hyundai Tucson with tinted windows and Gauteng registration plates.

The suspects fled the scene in the Hyundai and abandoned the Corolla not far from Ngwenya's house.

Provincial police commissioner Rex Machabi last month gave the units a 30-day ultimatum to arrest the suspects behind the missing drugs and to recover the drugs or face dismissal. But the officers have since been removed and sent to other stations.