ATM bombers shoot at cars

2008-03-29 00:00

HEAVILY-ARMED robbers shot at passing motorists shortly after bombing a Standard Bank automated teller machine (ATM) in Nottingham Road outside Howick yesterday.

One car was damaged, but no one was reported injured during the incident during the early hours of the morning.

The blast blew a hole in the roof of the building that housed the ATM, but no money was stolen.

Speaking to Weekend Witness, the owner of the building in which the ATM was mounted, Gavin Hayhoe, gave this account: “My wife heard a thump noise. She thought a lorry had lost its load, but it wasn’t long after that that we received a call from the police.

“Virtually every piece of glass from the building was blown,” he said.

Although investigations were still under way and no arrests had been made yesterday, police said they believe commercial explosives were used in the blast and that four men were involved.

“Investigations at the scene established that four unknown men arrived at the ATM and after a short while, the sound of an explosion was heard,” Senior Superintendent Henry Budhram said.

He said spent cartridges from R1 rifles and shotguns were recovered at the scene. It is believed that the robbers shot at passing motorists in panic as they fled.

It was not clear how they got away.

Budhram said the suspects made off with an undisclosed amount of money. However, Hayhoe and other people at the scene said the robbers failed to blast open the money case and left it at the scene.

ATM bombings have become widespread in the KZN midlands over the past couple of months, so much so that repairing bomb-damaged buildings has become a regular task for local builder Vicky Bridglall.

“I have seen and repaired enough of these all over Pietermaritzburg and the midlands,” he said.

On January 11, two machines were bombed in Cato Ridge.

A UK citizen who has been staying in the midlands for the past few years shared a local joke to lighten the matter a bit.

“When I heard that an ATM on Nottingham Road had been blown up, I knew it was Standard Bank. FNB, which is just next to it, never has any money.”

Another spectator believed the FNB machine was not targeted because of the CCTV cameras installed around it.

The Standard Bank branch that was affected during the blast is expected to be operational by Monday.

Erik Larsen of Standard Bank could not comment yesterday.

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