Several men taken in for questioning over killing of Engcobo cops

A gang of robbers attacked the police station in the small town of Engcobo, killing five police officers and a soldier.
Ngcobo police station A gang of robbers attacked the police station in the small town of Engcobo, killing five police officers and a soldier.
Image: HeraldLIVE

Several men have been taken in for questioning regarding the killing of five police officers in Engcobo on Wednesday.

Police initially said on Thursday afternoon that the men had been "arrested" for the murders of the five officers‚ and two others‚ but later backtracked.

Eastern Cape police spokesman captain Khaya Tonjeni said since the national task team was formed‚ much ground had been covered and great progress was achieved.

“We can confirm there are people who have been taken in for questioning. This is standard procedure during the process of any investigation.

"People will be questioned and this will not be done differently in this case‚” he said.

Tonjeni said a formal announcement would be made should there be any significant developments in the investigation.

“In the meantime we will refrain from reporting any further minuscule details on the progress of the case . We will wait until there is something tangible and meaningful.

“We have decided to respect the process of the investigation and allow the work of the task team to continue without any further challenges or miscommunications‚” he said. ​

This apparent backtrack comes just hours after Eastern Cape provincial police commissioner Lieutenant-General Liziwe Ntshinga told victim Constable Kuhle Mathetha’s family on Thursday that four men had been arrested.

Ntshinga broke the news to the family as she and police top brass visited the Mathetha family at their Ncorha village‚ just outside Engcobo‚ to officially inform them of the 27-year-old’s death.

Ntshinga said the four men were nabbed after they allegedly used fake names that did not correspond with their IDs.

The owner of a bed and breakfast establishment alerted the police who nabbed the suspects.

“Kuhle’s mother don’t worry because we have arrested these thugs. We didn’t sleep the whole night searching for them until we got them. Kuhle and the four other officers are national heroes.

“Their killing will not be in vain‚” she told a packed room of grieving family members.

Mathetha‚ Warrant Officer Zuko Mbini‚ 45‚ of Zimbane in Mthatha‚ Constable Zuko Ntsheku‚ 38‚ of Luhewini in Engcobo‚ Constable Nkosiphendule Pongco‚ 32‚ Malungeni village 3 in Ngqeleni‚ and Constable Sibongiseni Sandlana‚ 32‚ of Qunu near Mthatha‚ were killed on Wednesday when unknown gunmen opened fire at the police station and stole 10 guns.

Editor's Note: This story was amended on Thursday evening to reflect new information provided by SAPS regarding the men being taken in for questioning.

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