Police in the Free State have warned communities and especially farmers to be cautious of criminals, posing as police officers, who request entrance to their properties.
This comes after three women and two young children were held captive and robbed by four men wearing police caps and shirts on a farm near Bothaville last Friday. The suspects gained entrance to the farmhouse after they told the woman, who is also the farm owner, they wanted to search the house for drugs.
Police spokesperson, Stephen Thakeng, says people must first make sure they have a cellphone number of the police commander based at their nearest police station. According to Thakeng, this can be useful to clarify the vehicle registration number and identities of police officers who want to gain entrance to homes.
Should police officers turn up at a property, double-check if they are driving a marked vehicle. There are numbers on police vehicles, for instance at Bothaville the vehicle will be marked with the letter “B” and a number ten, says Thakeng. If police detectives arrive at homes, they usually do not drive marked vehicles. In that case people should call their station commander to confirm the vehicle’s registration number.
Thakeng says people should also ask for proof of identification. He warned that people should not allow so-called police officers in their homes if they are in doubt.
Meanwhile, one suspect was arrested shortly after the Bothaville robbery and is expected to apply for bail next Monday. A fifth man is still being questioned by police. He is believed to be an employee on the farm. – Christal-Lize Muller