Police snipers kill two hijackers in hostage drama

Two hijackers were shot dead by police snipers following a 20-hour hostage drama outside Petrusburg in the Free State on Tuesday morning, paramedics said.

ER24 spokesperson Lloyd Krause said the saga started at about 10am on Monday when a farm in the small town of Petrusburg was attacked.

“The farmer whose farm was under attack called his neighbours for assistance and the neighbours responded.”

But the neighbours, a father and son, were hijacked by the attackers on their way to the farmhouse.

“The father and son duo is believed to have had a hunting rifle with them at the time of the hijacking,” said Krause.

The hijackers sped off with them on Abrahamskraal road from Petrusburg towards Bloemfontein.

“The son managed to escape from the hijacked vehicle and managed to run to the Bainsvlei police station and summoned help,” Krause said.

A chase ensued when the police became involved and the hijacked vehicle came to a standstill on the road at about 2pm, but the hijackers refused to hand themselves over.

“The police task force arrived on the scene at approximately 5pm. Negotiations ceased at approximately 5am this morning [Tuesday] and resumed at approximately 6.10am. Food was delivered to the hijacked vehicle’s occupants at approximately 9pm last night.”

Krause said at about 7am on Tuesday, the two hijackers were shot dead.

“Both of the hijackers were shot by police task force officers and are deceased.
The sniper unit of the task force just neutralised them,” said Krause.

The father was taken to hospital with minor injuries.

Beeld newspaper named him as Gerhard Venter and said he was the father-in-law—and not father, as reported by the paramedics—of Gerdus Venter, who was hijacked with him.

The Venters went to help Flip Kotze, of the Farm Uitvlug, who was held up and assaulted by two farm attackers.

But when the Venters arrived at the farm, according to Beeld, the two robbers were walking in the garden carrying big sports bags.

The two men told the Venters they were helping out on the farm, but the Venters ordered them to get into their bakkie.

But once inside the Venters’ vehicle, the robbers held them up with a firearm that belonged to Kotze.

Gerhard Venter, in his 50s, then told Gerdus Venter to jump out of the bakkie. Two shots were fired at him as he did so, but he managed to get away.

Gerdus Venter, in his 30s, alerted the police who tracked down the bakkie and surrounded it, but the two men refused to hand over Venter.

That was when the negotiations started and the task force eventually arrived at the scene, after having their flight to Bloemfontein delayed twice due to bad weather.

At one stage, the wife of Gerhard Venter received an SMS from his phone, typed by one of the hijackers, which said: “We will have 2 [sic] kill him”.

Police spokesperson Senior Superintendent Vishnu Naidoo would not confirm the information released by the paramedics, saying the police would issue its own statement later in the day.—Sapa

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