3 die and cop hurt in attack

THREE people were found dead and a police officer seriously wounded after an off- duty policeman was attacked by five men.

The officer, who cannot be named, is in a serious condition in the PietermaritzburgHospital.

The dead people are Phumalani Ngcobo, 37, Ndumiso Nyembe, 28, and Jabulani Magwenyane, 24.

The incident happened on Saturday night in the Hashini area, Taylor's Halt, outside Pietermaritzburg.

Police spokesperson Senior Superintendent Henry Budhram said yesterday the police found three people dead, and a fourth critically wounded on the scene.

"Investigations established that the critically wounded person was an off-duty member of the SAPS detective branch in Taylor's Halt.

"The officer was on his way to visit family in the area when he was waylaid by five men while travelling on a dirt road," he said.

Budhram said it was alleged that one of the occupants in the vehicle opened fire in the officer's direction, wounding him in the neck.

The officer returned fire at his assailants using his service firearm.

The drivers of both vehicles lost control and came to a standstill near each other.

"Two of the occupants of this vehicle jumped out and fled from the scene.

"Subsequent investigations led to the arrest of these two suspects, who were found hiding in the nearby Magwenyane area.

"One sustained gunshot wounds to his legs and the other was uninjured," said Budhram.

He said the motive appeared to be a failed robbery or hijacking.

He said the arrested suspects, aged 20 and 22, were expected to appear in the Pietermaritzburg magistrate's court shortly.

Meanwhile on Sunday, police found the naked body of a 50-year-old woman lying on her back on the ground on the premises of a tavern in Sinathing Road, Pietermaritzburg.

She had sustained multiple injuries to her face and head, believed to have been inflicted with a blunt object. Her clothing could not be found in the vicinity.

The woman's body was discovered by a passerby who subsequently contacted the police.

The police have appealed to anyone with information on the woman that could assist in the investigations to contact Detective-Inspector Protas Mtungwa of the Plessislaer Detective Services on 033-398-9752 or 082-491-9510. People can also call Crime Stop on 0860010111.