Five policemen were killed during an attack on a police station in Ngcobo, between Mthatha and Komani (previously Queenstown), Eastern Cape on Wednesday morning.
SAPS reported that a warrant officer and four constables were shot dead.
Three of the SAPS members were shot on site while two additional members were kidnapped before being killed and left on the side of the road.
An off-duty soldier was also shot dead as the suspects fled the scene.
Two additional male officers who were wounded and transferred to hospital, have since been discharged.
Another five female officers who were on duty at the time are receiving trauma counselling.
During the attack, ten firearms and a police van were stolen from the police station, and an ATM a short distance from the police station was robbed.
— Zimkhita Manqinana (@ZManqinana) February 21, 2018
In a statement condemning the attack, National Commissioner of the South African Police Service, General Khehla John Sitole said, “I am appalled and deeply saddened by the cold and callous attack on our colleagues this morning.
“I have activated a task team comprising of experienced detectives of the South African Police Service and the Directorate for Priority Crime Investigation to investigate this attack.
“We will not rest until we have tracked down these heartless killers and bring them to book.”
The statement noted that “an unknown group of armed suspects entered the police station in the early hours of this morning and without warning, randomly opened fire on the members on duty.
“Three members were killed instantly in the Community Service Centre. An off-duty soldier was also shot dead as the suspects were fleeing.
“The suspects made off with a police van taking two other members. The bodies of both these members with gunshot wounds were later found along the roadside, six kilometers from the police station.
“According to preliminary investigations, it appears that members were shot execution style.”
SAPS said the task team would be supported by specialised medium to high risk teams, aided by support from the Airwing.
Commissioner Sitole urged the community to come forward with any information that could assist in bringing the perpetrators to book.
SAPS noted that information can be communicated to the SAPS Crime Stop number 086 00 10111. Callers may remain anonymous and all information will be treated in the strictest of confidence.