Two persons, including one patron and an alleged robber, have been confirmed dead after a shootout broke out at a rugby club in Pongola, KwaZulu-Natal, police said on Monday.

According to police spokesperson Colonel Thembeka Mbele, two more alleged robbers, aged 20 and 26, were arrested in the early hours of the morning while trying to flee the country.

“The Pongola detectives acted on intelligence and, in the early hours of the morning, launched an operation aimed at tracing the suspects involved in the fatal shooting at a rugby club in Pongola over the weekend,” said Mbele.

“They were arrested while attempting to flee toward the Swaziland border. They are expected to appear in the Pongola Magistrate’s Court soon.”

Mbele said six armed men stormed the rugby club in Pongola around 22:30 on Friday. The men were wearing balaclavas and forced the patrons to lie down.

“One of the patrons drew his firearm and there was a shootout. One suspect, believed to be in his 30s, was shot and fatally wounded.”

An unlicensed firearm with seven rounds of ammunition was found next to him, Mbele said.

“One of the patrons, aged 30, was injured and taken to hospital where he later died. Charges of murder, attempted business robbery, and possession of an unlicensed firearm and ammunition are being investigated by Pongola SAPS.”

KwaZulu-Natal provincial commissioner Lieutenant General Khombinkosi Jula praised the Pongola detectives for the speedy arrest.

“I am confident the remaining suspects will be caught soon,” he said.

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