By Nqobile Tshili
A suspected gangster died in a shootout with police who had laid an ambush for his gun-totting friend at a homestead in Bulilima District.
Police are trying to use fingerprints to identify the dead gunman who allegedly shot at them and wounded an officer on Sunday around 10PM.
The police had been called to arrest Smallie Ntoba Ndlovu, said to be a South Africa-based notorious criminal, at Gambo village for chasing after a villager with a firearm.
A source from the village said police arrived at Ndlovu’s homestead on Sunday afternoon and found some villagers drinking beer.
“The villagers told police Ndlovu had gone to buy more beer and seemed afraid to give more information. The police rounded them up and took their cellphones. They lay in wait for Ndlovu at the homestead,” said the source.
Around 10 PM, said the source, a vehicle drove into the homestead and the driver allegedly saw a police officer hiding behind a tree in the glare of his headlights.
“The driver immediately opened fire. One of the bullets hit the officer’s gun and ricocheted into his arm. The officer shot back and killed the driver on the spot,” said the witness.
“The injured officer was taken to Plumtree District Hospital where he was treated and discharged while Ndlovu escaped but community members were reluctant to talk about him fearing victimisation.”
National police spokesperson, Assistant Commissioner Paul Nyathi, yesterday confirmed that a suspect was killed while exchanging fire with cops.
“Police are investigating an incident where a suspect died in Plumtree after an exchange of fire with police officers at a village beer drinking party. The suspect had come from South Africa and a report had been received by the police that he was armed and threatening to shoot people. He exchanged fire with police officers who had attended the report,” said Asst Comm Nyathi.
He said after the shootout police recovered a pistol used by the gunman and impounded the Toyota Corolla he was driving.
“We established that he had a pistol with four rounds, a spent cartridge, a vehicle which was registered in another person’s name. It also had a temporary permit for the vehicle which was again registered in another person’s name. The registration numbers of this vehicle had been tampered with,” he said.
Asst Comm Nyathi said he could not reveal whether the cop who shot him dead will be charged.
He said more details about the shooting will be revealed at the completion of investigations.
Asst Comm Nyathi said the public should avoid using unlicensed weapons as they will be arrested.
“We are investigating this incident and we urge members of the public not to cross borders with unlicensed firearms which have not been cleared by authorities, which are used to threaten people. Police will make sure that the law takes its course and proper investigations are being conducted to find out what really transpired when the fire arm was brought into the country,” said Asst Comm Nyathi. The Chronicle