Applaud police action in Ngcobo

A gang of robbers attacked the police station in the small town of Ngcobo.
A gang of robbers attacked the police station in the small town of Ngcobo.
Image: HeraldLIVE

The swift move by police at the weekend to arrest more than 10 suspects linked to last week's gruesome killings of five police officers in the Eastern Cape should be commended.

Constable Kuhle Mathetha, Warrant Officer Zuko Mbini, Constable Zuko Ntsheku, Constable Nkosiphendule Pongco and Constable Sibongiseni Sandlana were killed on Wednesday when gunmen raided the Ngcobo police station and stole 10 guns.

A retired soldier was also killed when he was hit by a stray bullet during the bloody incident.

But it was encouraging to see police react promptly to nab the suspects. It is, however, disconcerting that the arrest took place at Mancoba Angel Ministry Church, also known as the Seven Angels Ministries Church, a place of worship.

This is the building that the alleged killers used as their hideout. It was the focus too of the whole incident where seven suspects lost their lives following a shootout with police.

It is a concern for everyone, including the residents of Ngcobo and surrounding areas, that the authorities took too long to shut down the controversial church that has a history of inappropriate activities. More baffling is how police failed to detect the illicit activities that are just 3km away from their base.

In 2016, the church made headlines when social workers rescued 21 children between the ages of five and 18. In the same year, provincial social development MEC Nancy Sihlwayi said the church prohibited its congregants from having jobs and children were not allowed to go to school. But strangely, the church continued to conduct its business as usual.

The killings of the Ngcobo police officers brought to 12 the number of officers who have been killed in South Africa this year. This is a worrying statistic considering that the year is just 57 days old.

Police Minister Fikile Mbalula has made no bones about their effort to deal with the scourge of crime, but police will not succeed on their own to arrest crime without the assistance of communities. It is incumbent upon us to work with authorities. We can't allow thugs to do as they please, and what the police did in Ngcobo has given us a glimmer of hope in crime fighting.

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