Another police officer killed in Free State

The Free State policeman was was fatally shot while in the line of duty.

Following reports of a Hawks’ Tactical Operations Management Section officer that was killed in a shootout with a group of suspects in Mamelodi during a sting operation yesterday, police have confirmed that another officer was gunned down in Villiers, Free State, this morning, 9 June 2023.

According to police reports, Detective Warrant Officer Neels Du Rand, aged 47, and the Detective Commander of Villiers, was fatally shot while in the line of duty.

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Police spokesperson, Sergeant Josephine Rani, explained that the incident took place in the early hours of Friday, 9 June 2023, at around 2:45 am.

“Officer Du Rand made an urgent call to the Villiers police station, alerting them that he was following a hijacked truck along the gravel road between Villiers and Standerton. He requested immediate backup from his fellow officers,” she said.

Search for police official

She explained that members of the Villiers police station then initiated a search for Officer Du Rand.

“During their search, they noticed a section of a wire fence damaged at a nearby farm. Further investigation led them to discover an Isuzu bakkie, which belonged to Warrant Officer Du Rand.

“Upon inspecting the vehicle, they found the officer motionless inside. In order to gain access, they had to break the window,” she said.

It was then that they discovered that Officer Du Rand had sustained four gunshot wounds to his back and was pronounced dead at the scene by emergency services.

Rani confirmed that the investigation revealed that neither his personal belongings nor anything from his vehicle had been taken.

Meanwhile, the hijacked truck was found abandoned approximately 8 kilometres towards Standerton in the Mpumalanga Province. Preliminary findings suggest that the hijacked truck was accompanied by a white BMW sedan bearing false registration, she added.

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Reacting to the devastating incident, Major General Len Singh, the acting Provincial Commissioner of the Police in the Free State, expressed his grief over the loss of Officer Du Rand.

“We woke up to the heart-wrenching news of this incident. Our thoughts and condolences go out to the family, friends, and colleagues of Warrant Officer Neels Du Rand. With 29 years of dedicated service, he leaves behind a legacy that will be deeply missed,” said Major General Singh.

Officer killed in Mamelodi shootout

Meanwhile during a sting operation in Mamelodi yesterday, a shootout ensued between a group of suspects and a member of the Hawks’ Tactical Operations Management Section (TOMS), resulting in the death of the TOMS member.

Three suspects were also killed in the exchange of gunfire. According to Brigadier Nomthandazo Mbambo, spokesperson for the Hawks, the tactical officers were monitoring a residence in Mamelodi based on information suggesting the presence of high-calibre rifles.

Officer onslaught

During his update address to the nation on Operation Shanela earlier today, General Fannie Masemola said that SAPS has sadly lost a number of members this week.

“We also take this opportunity to pay tribute and send condolences to the family of Brigadier Jackson Mkhaulesi who died in Bloemfontein earlier this week. We will remember him as a hardworking and dedicated detective with a career spanning more than three decades.

“Our condolences to family, friends and colleagues of the detective commander of Mooinooi police station, Lieutenant Colonel Morris Lekone Mohajane who was killed after a hijacking incident outside his home.

“We also pay tribute to Constables Mohlopi, Mokoena and Mdende from Fochville SAPS who tragically lost their lives in a car accident 10km outside Potchefstroom, also on Tuesday afternoon,” he said.

“Our sincerest condolences also goes to the families of Sergeant Maja and Warrant Officer Du Rand. Sergeant Maja was fatally shot in a shootout with suspects in Mamelodi during an operation by the HAWKS Tactical Operations Management Section.

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“Warrant Officer Du Rand was the Detective Branch Commander of Villers in the Free State. He was fatally shot while responding to a truck hijacking,” he added.

The General assured that the SAPS was continuing to implement the Police Safety Strategy which seeks to look at the safety and security of members on and off duty.