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Barberton mob frees suspected criminals from police van

Mpumalanga police are investigating the link between a 12-man mob alleged to have freed six suspected criminals from the back of a police van.

“It is possible that they belong to the same gang here in Barberton‚” said Colonel Mtsholi Bhembe.

Bhembe said the six suspects had been arrested on Monday on a charge of unlawful possession of a firearm.

They were on their way to court on Tuesday when the police van they were being transported in was suddenly attacked.

“According to information at police disposal a group of people emerged‚ forced open the police van at the back‚ freeing the six suspects and capsizing the van in the process‚” said Bhembe.

“The police managed to get out‚ calling for back up. A scuffle ensued between the police and the group wherein a shot went off‚ leading to a 17-year-old girl being injured‚” he added.

The six suspects and their 12 liberators all fled the scene.

A manhunt by police‚ however‚ led to the re-arrest of the six as well as those suspected of having tried to free them.

“The twelve are facing charges of aiding suspects to escape from lawful custody and malicious damage to property‚” said Bhembe.

The six who were initially in police custody would face an additional charge of escaping from police custody.

All 18 suspects are due to appear in the Barberton Magistrate’s Court.

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