One suspect wounded in pre-dawn back road bust
A VIOLENT shootout between police and four armed suspects took place in the early hours of Tuesday morning on the corner of Bathurst Street and Olive Burn Road (Standerwick Farm turn-off) after police cornered four men who they suspected had been involved in an attempted farm at tack.
The incident resembled a scene from an action movie with no less than 12 police officers closing in the armed suspects.
Port Alfred SAPS overpowered and arrested all four of the men, who were aged between 25 and 35 years. One was wounded in the shootout.
Throughout Monday the Port Alfred cluster received information from crime intelligence officers of a planned attack on Kingsmead Farm in the Shaw Park/Martindale area near Fish River. The couple, Cecil Brown, 69 and his 63-year-old wife Janet are clients of Panther Farm Security and they were informed of the planned at tack.
Immediately, a sting operation was set in motion involving the K9 unit, detectives, highway patrol, Vispol, Motherwell crime intelligence and Panther boss Dudley Waters. At about 10pm on Monday, police conducting waylay duties near the farm spotted a metallic blue Toyota Corolla.
The vehicle was stopped and searched. Its occupants were a man and a three-year-old child.
The driver admitted that he had dropped three men off near the farm but insisted he didn’t know why they had gone there.
Police arranged for the child to be removed and placed in the care of his mother. As there was no evidence linking the driver to any crime, police had to release him.
At the same time, l aw enforcement sent word that the suspects were moving towards the farm . Waters secured the Browns, positioned himself in the house and waited for the suspects.
The suspects tried to gain entry to the house but fled when police arrived. Under the cover of night, the suspects manoeuvred their way to the road and from there on fled along farmland back roads.
“It was frightening waiting for them,” Cecil Brown said. Early on Tuesday morning the suspects, in the same metallic blue Corolla, drove straight into a roadblock and this led to the shootout.
As the driver of the vehicle was flagged down to stop, gunshots were fired and the police returned fire. Three men emerged from the car unharmed while the fourth sustained a bullet wound to the shoulder.
Police noted t h at the injured man was the same driver they had earlier questioned and released. He was taken to the local hospital for treatment and is under police guard. A 9mm Norinco gun and live rounds of ammunition were found in the vehicle.
“It’s darn frustrating to do what you can for the community and these people throw sticks at you,” said Cecil.
“I take my hat off to all involved being so active and on the ball.” All four suspects face charges of attempted murder and possession of an unlicensed firearm and ammunition.
They are due to appear in the Port Alfred Magistrate’s Court. The same men are suspected of being involved in a case of hijacking and murder in Peddie last Saturday.
Acting Port Alfred Cluster Commander, Colonel Lizette Zeelie, congratulated all the role players for their dedication and commitment to working together to fight crime.