Cops call for backup as drug sting takes ugly turn

Two police officers had a brush with death by the crowd watching them as they tried to arrest a suspect at a petrol station in Oxford Street during an undercover sting operation.
Two police officers had a brush with death by the crowd watching them as they tried to arrest a suspect at a petrol station in Oxford Street during an undercover sting operation.
Image: ELVIS NTOMBELA

Two undercover policemen had a close shave when a drug sting operation took an ugly turn at the weekend.

Chaos erupted on Saturday afternoon when a crowd obstructed the two officers, who were trying to arrest someone at a filling station in Oxford Street, East London.

Shocked bystanders said more than 50 angry people rounded on the plainclothes cops. The two officers, unable to use their pistols amid the fast-moving crowd, had to call for backup before they could leave the scene.

The crowd had surrounded them and their suspect, already in cuffs, when a uniformed contingent arrived.

This comprised three police vans carrying at least ten officers accompanied by a tactical response team of four. The suspect was thrown into the back of a van with a few of his protectors.

The Dispatch arrived on the scene just before the backup did, and saw at least five men from the crowd shoving the officers and pulling at the suspect trying to set him free. People in the crowd were taunting, shouting “shoot me, shoot me, shoot, he's not going anywhere”.

Provincial police spokesperson Colonel Sibongile Soci confirmed that three men aged 21, 32 and 41 had been arrested at the scene on Saturday. She said they would appear in the East London magistrate's court on Monday.

“The first was arrested for possession of Mandrax. The second was arrested for obstructing police while performing their duties and the third was arrested for malicious damage to property,” said Soci.

Mcebisi Skota, who saw the scuffle unfold, said it looked like a drug deal gone bad for the man who was arrested.

I was pouring petrol and I saw that guy trying to sell drugs to some guy, only to find out he's a policeman. So when the officer tells him he is under arrest a large group of people intervene and surround the policeman

“I was pouring petrol and I saw that guy trying to sell drugs to some guy, only to find out he's a policeman. So when the officer tells him he is under arrest a large group of people intervene and surround the policeman,” said Skota.

“Another policeman came out of nowhere to help but there were just too many of them. They were pulling and pushing the officers. They were saying all sorts of threats and I think they were close to beating up the two officers.

“Those two guys were saved by their backup. It was only then that they were able to arrest that man. This is wrong because nobody is above the law. The policeman was not even aggressive. I would understand if he was aggressive, but he wasn't. He was just doing his job and that guy was dealing drugs. I saw him throwing a plastic bag with tablets on the ground. The policeman took that plastic bag.”

Another witness who didn't want to be named, said Oxford Street was no longer safe because of the constant drug dealing day and night.

“It's really not safe here, now they are pushing police in the chest when they find them with drugs. I'm scared of walking or even shopping in Oxford Street.” - DispatchLIVE



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