4 appear in court over Ngcobo police killings

They were part of a group of 12 arrested following a shootout at the Mancoba Seven Angels Ministry on Friday night.

FILE: King Williams Town Cluster Commanders observe a moment of silence for the five police officers who were killed in an attack on the Ngcobo Police Station. Picture: SAPS.

CAPE TOWN/JOHANNESBURG - Four men have appeared in court in connection with Ngcobo police station murders.

They were part of a group of 12 arrested following a shootout at the Mancoba Seven Angels Ministry on Friday night; seven people were killed.

The National Prosecuting Authority (NPA) says the four accused have been charged in connection with the attack on the police station.

Three police officers were gunned down in the station, two others were taken hostage and executed and a retired soldier was also shot dead.

The NPA says not all 12 arrested during the raid at the church over the weekend could be linked to murders through evidence.

The four accused, between the ages of 19 and 33, briefly appeared in the Ngcobo Magistrate's Court on Monday afternoon.

They face five counts of murder and charges of robbery with aggravating circumstances and attempted murder.

The matter has been postponed to 8 March, where two of the men are expected to apply for bail.

The other two have abandoned bail.

Meanwhile, the South African Police Union (Sapu) says while it welcomes the swift arrests of suspects linked to the shooting, the crime could have been prevented.

The union's Oscar Skommere has called on Police Minister Fikile Mbalula to appoint a permanent head of intelligence.

“Crime Intelligence... they are focusing on politicians instead of crime on the ground. That incident was supposed to be picked up by Crime Intelligence and inform the normal policing so that they could make a plan to penetrate that environment.”

At the same time, Mthuthuzeli Swartbooi who is a relative of one of the murdered officers, says they're devastated.

“I drove down on Saturday to meet the family. the mother is quite devastated. It’s a very tragic situation.”

Parliament's police committee chairperson Francois Beukman says they will discuss the police station attack.

“We want to again reiterate that this attack was a national tragedy and the members of the SAPS, in the prime of their lives, became the victims of criminals who do not value lives nor a society where law and order prevails. The committee will meet with the national commissioner in the next two weeks.”