A video of two alleged criminals escaping from a police van in Pinetown went viral this week, with many questioning the whereabouts of the officers in charge.
It is believed the two were arrested for being in possession of dangerous weapons.
The video was taken by onlooker Mohammed Noushaad who works at a shop in Stansfield Lane.
There were two videos released on Facebook. In the first, a passerby is seen tampering with the lock at the back of the van in a bid to let the criminals escape. They are then seen striking the door to force it open.
In the second video, the men were filmed squeezing themselves out of the bottom of the bent door.
During the escape, observers can be heard cheering.
Noushaad said he had gone to the bank and on his return to the shop he had seen what was going on.
“The first thing people think of doing in a case like this, is to take out their phones to record it. I recorded the second video where they could be seen coming out of the van. The first video was recorded by a colleague. I have no idea where the policemen were at the time. They were not in police uniform so it was difficult to tell who and where they were. Nobody could spot them anywhere,” he said.
Police spokeswoman Captain Nqobile Gwala said the police had been following up on further information regarding the suspects in the van.
“The van was securely locked at the side of the door and it is alleged that someone tampered with the bottom latch,” said Gwala.
She said the police also condemned the actions of the community who could be heard cheering the suspects on.
“It is a concern to see members of the community helping suspects to escape rather than preventing the escape. The entire incident is subject to investigation by the Pinetown police,” said Gwala.
On Facebook, users criticised the police, some speculating that the officers were having lunch at a nearby KFC.
Amanda Stone commented: “Why was there no officer on guard though? Aren’t they supposed to expect that criminals are capable of anything?
“The thing that is worrying about this is that those men will go on to rob again and could even end up murdering people in the process, if they haven’t already. And the way the public stood around clapping and laughing… Wow! Shocking.”
In response to those cheering the criminals, another user Shaun Steinmann said: “It’s the job of police to detain and secure prisoners, not citizens. So must an individual on the street risk his/her life to restrain these alleged criminals when they could be murderers? That’s why policemen have supposed training and get paid to do just that.”[Source: Sunday Tribune]