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5 MEN DIE IN POLICE CAR CHASE, SHOOT-OUT

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EZULWINI – A most wanted criminal was among the five men who died during a car chase and shoot-out with the police yesterday morning.
The car chase ended in a nasty car accident at or near Ezulwini Community School. The genesis of the speed chase and shoot-out was at Mbikwakhe, Matsapha in the Manzini Region where the police were reportedly after eight suspects. According to sources, the speed chase and shoot-out led to the police only arresting three suspects. This arrest was effected at Ezulwini, about 28.3 kilometres north-west of where it all started. This publication gathered that the hot pursuit of the suspects by the police started on Wednesday night and ended in a nasty accident after the shoot-out in the wee hours of Thursday morning.

Robbed

When it all started at Mbikwakhe, the eight men reportedly robbed a male motorist his red Volkswagen (VW) Golf 6, 1.4 TSI sedan at gunpoint. Among the eight suspects, it was alleged that one of them was armed with a pistol. It was gathered that after hijacking the sedan from the motorist, the suspects reportedly sped away. As the eight suspects overloaded the five-seater sedan and sped away, the source said the owner of the sedan reported the hijacking to the police immediately. He then monitored the movements of his sedan on his phone as he had installed an anti-hijacking system which tracked the car.

The source said police responded promptly to the call as some of them were in the vicinity as they were patrolling around Matsapha. It was gathered that the owner of the car directed the police to where his car was heading to and upon realising that there was car tailing them, the eight suspects reportedly increased the speed of the VW Golf 6. It was said that this was when the speed chase between the police and the eight suspects ensued.
The source said the suspects used the Kwaluseni/Lozitha Public Road and  along the way, the police, who were driving a Toyota Hilux GD6 double cab LDV with a canopy, tried to stop the suspects by firing gunshots at them.

However, instead of stopping, the suspects reportedly increased speed in an effort to lose the police. It was said the police continued to aim and shoot at the suspects, who also fired gunshots at the police officers’ car, supposedly in a bid to scare them away. The source said during the hot pursuit, the law enforcers reportedly called for backup from Lobamba and Mbabane police stations. At this point, the source said the speed chase had entered the Hhohho Region, which the Matsapha police have no jurisdiction under. It was gathered that the driver of the stolen vehicle increased speed in a bid to lose the law enforcers and eventually lost control of it near Ezulwini Community School as it veered off the road and overturned.

Survived

“Five of the suspects died on the spot, while three of them survived and tried to run away. However, they were caught by the police because they could not run for a long distance since they were injured with gunshot wounds,” the source said. It is not clear if the deceased suspects were shot dead during the hot pursuit or they died due to the car accident. However, this publication’s reporters saw several gunshot holes in the stolen vehicle driven by the suspects. The gunshot holes were in the rear of the vehicle, next to the right hand side tail light, also beneath the petrol tank and several holes were on the driver’s door.

The sedan was then towed to the Matsapha Police Station, where it was found yesterday morning. What was visible was that almost all windows were shattered and that airbags had inflated supposedly during the impact of the accident. It’s rear bumper was shoved into the car through the rear window while its front bumper was shoved into the body of the car through the passenger window of the door behind the driver’s seat.
On another note, the source purported that when searching the car, the police did not find the gun which they purportedly used when they robbed the man his car and attempted to shot the police with. He said suspicions were that the suspects either threw it away during the hot pursuit, or those who survived hid it after the accident.

Dead

Thereafter, the source said police officers rushed the suspects to the Raleigh Fitkin Memorial (RFM) Hospital, where the five were certified dead upon arrival while the trio was taken to the hospital’s emergency department. It was gathered that one of them was treated and later discharged from the hospital to the custody of the police, while the duo was admitted as they had to be operated in the theatre ward for the removal of bullets lodged in their bodies. Chief Police Information and Communications Officer Superintendent Phindile Vilakati confirmed that five men died while in a speed chase with the police.

She said at some point the police had to fire shots in an effort to stop the suspects. Vilakati said the men were being pursued for an alleged car hijacking at Mbikwakhe. Also, she confirmed that among the deceased suspects was a man who had been in their most wanted list for a string of armed robberies. Vilakati said the three survivors were arrested and two of them were still in hospital.

Suspect

Meawhile, it is worth noting that the most wanted suspect was out on bail for among other things 11 robbery cases, eight of which were committed in one day (Christmas Eve) in 2020 at Matsapha. Out of the 13 charges he faced, 11 counts were robbery cases and the total amount of items and cash which were stolen during the robberies was E44 900. The other two charges were assault with intent to cause grievous bodily harm and contempt of court.

Also, the most wanted suspect was in April this year granted E50 000 bail with his co-accused for allegedly using force and violence, while armed with firearms, to induce submission to the people they robbed. The pair allegedly stole items such as cellphones, watches and television sets. Their item of choice, as reflected in the charge sheet, was the cellphones.

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