Stabilising Engcobo SAPS

King William’s Town: Ever since the callous attack and murder of the five Ngcobo police officers at Engcobo last month, Eastern Cape SAPS has reached a milestone that began tragically and ended with the burial and final salute to our fallen heroes.

The attack is definitely one of the worst suffered by police in this Province and we would like to believe it should be the last of its kind. As the province we promise to do our best to ensure that such an incident is never repeated in our lifetime, said the Eastern Cape Provincial Commissioner, Lt Gen Liziwe Ntshinga.

Ever since the attack, the following five key processes were undertaken namely:

1. The establishment of the multi-disciplinary Task Team – The team of seasoned and experienced police handled the investigation that yielded several positive outcomes including arrests and recovery of firearms. The sleepless nights and continuous search for clues resulted in the arrest of a number of suspects linked to the attack. The investigation is still unfolding and several suspects are appearing in court for this attack on the officers of the law.

2. Repatriation of Mancoba church members – All church members who have not been positively linked to criminal activities associated with the church were taken back to their families and some of them re-united with their relatives. The Hawks is handling the matter working closely with the Department of Social Development.

3. Normalising and improving safety and public access to Engcobo police station – Since the church was turned to an instant crime scene, police detectives had to ensure all evidence required for investigation and trial is collected from all the crime scenes including the police station. All the old broken signs have been removed and replaced with new signage and the broken windows have been fixed. Additional personnel have been deployed to render quality services to Engcobo community.

4. Burial and send-off of our heroes – An attack of police members on duty inside the police station has taught us that we have to be eternally vigilant of any eventuality, on and off duty. We have just buried five members of the SAPS family with respect and dignity worthy of patriotism they displayed as dedicated police. The Eastern Cape SAPS will always remember these members for the worthy sacrifice and the ultimate price they paid in the police service. Even though the burial and final salute of national heroes, had been undertaken and completed over the past two weeks, senior management is tasked with the responsibility of constantly interacting with affected families and members in order to tie some loose ends that still needs some attention.

5. Demolition of the church as the centre of crime and removing inscriptions on the mountains – A team led by senior SAPS members in the province have already started with removing inscriptions on the side of the mountains behind the Mancoba church. They are a multidisciplinary team of more than 30 members comprising of K9 Search and Rescue team, Public Order Police and Operational Response team are busy as we speak on the mountain and the foot of the mountain. Community members have welcomed this move and have come to show their support as they have consistently done ever since the attack happened.

A legal route is also being sought to give guidance and legal counsel on the best possible method of the physical removal of the church buildings from where it is located.

The normalisation of the police station will be done in three stages namely; short term, medium and long term activities. The improvement of safety and security including control of public access will be undertaken as mid and long term plans of normalisation of the station.

“I extend my sincere gratitude to every government department, the police who came at the ring of the first alarm until the burial including the community and South Africans who have supported us and still continue to do so. I also extend my thanks to the media for keeping the community informed through your social media, print stories, videos, sound bites and opinion pieces. I thank you for respecting and allowing the families, friends and colleagues to grieve during this sad time. On behalf of SAPS I would like to thank you for allowing us to be part of official send-off of our members and national heroes. To the community of Ngcobo, we will continue to serve you with the same dedication as our Heroes had done. We promise to improve the conditions of work, physical space, safety and security of our members stationed at Engcobo SAPS, added the Provincial Commissioner.

Significant updates on the progresses of the case would be relayed immediately by relevant organs of SAPS as the investigation unfolds.

Source: South African Police Service