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An East London man who allegedly killed a friend and held his two children hostage on a farm was shot dead during an apparent scuffle with a police officer over the weekend, Eastern Cape police said on Monday.

The drama unfolded on the Geluksdal farm in Gonubie on Saturday, where a 45-year-old “farm owner” had allowed his friend, his friend’s wife and their two children to live temporarily, said Captain Hazel Mqala.

The Daily Dispatch identified the men as farmer and trainee sangoma Fritz “Majeke” Joubert and traditional healer Anele Hoyana.

It reported that a traditional ceremony had been under way at the time.

Mqala said the men had been socialising in the early hours of Saturday morning when an argument ensued and escalated to a physical fight on the deck outside the farmhouse.

“The farm owner assaulted this 40-year-old male friend with his fists and a rifle butt, resulting in the victim sustaining severe head injuries,” she said.

The farm owner apparently made numerous phone calls asking for help from neighbouring farmers, who in turn notified the nearest police stations.

When police arrived, they found the body of the friend on his back with numerous head injuries.

A warrant officer from Bluewater police station entered the house and the farm owner allegedly told him that “nobody is going to leave the farm premises today”, said Mqala.

“At that stage, the farm owner had taken the friends’ children hostage and locked them in the bathroom. He then requested the mother to return to the house, as she was hiding outside fearing for her life.”

A constable from the Gonubie police station also arrived on the scene.

“It is alleged that the farm owner then locked the door and instructed the police to place their firearms on the table. They did not comply with his instruction.”

The Bluewater police officer spoke to the farm owner, while the Gonubie officer went to the bathroom and rescued the two boys – aged two weeks old and two years old – who were hidden in the bath.

He took the children outside and handed them over to their mother.

Mqala said the farm owner had attacked the Bluewater police officer from behind with his fists and attempted to disarm him.

A shot went off during the struggle and hit the floor. The police officer warned the man to stop, but he attacked him again and he fired a shot in self-defence.

“… during [the] struggle the bullet from his service pistol entered underneath the left arm and fatally wounded the attacker,” she said.

The police officer received medical attention after suffering a fractured nose, jaw and injuries to his face.

Firearms and ammunition were confiscated from the scene.

East London Station Commander Brigadier Mxolisi Mqotyana commended the police officers for saving innocent lives.

Independent Police Investigative Directorate spokesperson Sontaga Seisa confirmed they were investigating the circumstances of the death of the man who allegedly held the children hostage.

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