A police detective arrested on stock theft charges was released on bail after he allegedly stole 10 sheep in Machibini Village last Tuesday, resulting in his beating by a group of residents.
This was preceded by a high-speed car chase by residents when they arrived at the place where the sheep were allegedly being stolen, only to find a police officer with one sheep in a bakkie.
Provincial police spokesman captain Khaya Tonjeni confirmed that one of two men aged 34 and 36, who were arrested and charged with stock theft, was a police officer.
“The arrest followed after the community of Emampondweni locality saw a suspicious-looking vehicle driving around. They suspected the aim was to steal stock and followed it until a chase ensued.”
Tonjeni indicated the escape vehicle containing a lamb was later found along the road, driven by one of the two suspects while the other ran away.
“The driver sustained some cuts on the forehead as a result of the assault from community members. He was taken to Life Queenstown Private Hospital for treatment and later discharged and detained at the Komani police station.”
Tonjeni said the escaped suspect handed himself over to the police and the pair appeared before the Ezibeleni magistrate’s court on Friday and were released on R500 bail each.
The owner of the sheep, Nonzwakazi Ntulo, said she was woken by residents who live near the place where the animals were kept on Tuesday evening, informing her about a bakkie being chased for stealing her livestock.
“My husband and I rushed to the scene after calling the stock theft unit and a member of the community policing forum. When we arrived the thief had been beaten and the police had come to rescue him. The other suspect is known to the community for stealing stock but has never been arrested.”
Ntulo said this was not the first time her sheep had been stolen. In 2015 they had been stolen on two occasions and though she reported the matter to the police, nothing was done.
“We have a problem at the Ilinge police station as incompetent officers do not process cases reported to them. Something must be done because our area is inundated with criminal acts and no one is arrested. Something must be done before residents do something drastic.”
A member of the newly-formed crime prevention forum, Mzikayise Foloti, said the police station should be closed because it was not helping the community.
“The forum has caught criminals who have arrogantly confessed that they are working with some policemen from the station. How do you fight crime in a community where police are working with criminals to the detriment of the residents?” he asked.