Ladysmith: Police catch gang after petrol theft

2008-08-18 00:00

THE getaway plan for a gang of nine men who filled up at a Ladysmith petrol station and then fled without paying came to a screeching halt just 35 minutes later on Sunday evening.

The men, packed in the car like sardines, have been charged with several crimes, including possession of unlicensed firearms, armed robbery and theft.

SAPS spokeswoman Captain Charmaine Struwig, said police in the area received a report of theft at the petrol station on the Newcastle road (the N11) at around 7.30 pm.

Police gave chase towards Newcastle, as the suspects — who were driving in a Toyota Corolla Verso — were last seen heading that way.

Along the way, Inspector Leon Pretorius and Constable Kobus Landman soon spotted a vehicle travelling at high speed and, after closing in, they realised that it was the car they were chasing.

However, the officers realised they were outnumbered and called for back-up, while deciding to keep a reasonable distance so as not to alert the suspects.

“By that time, the Newcastle police had already set up a roadblock near the entrance of the town. There were about eight police vehicles forming a wall. The suspects suddenly stopped — probably in shock …” said Struwig.

She said the suspects attempted to reverse, but the two Ladysmith officers closed in on them from behind.

Constable Kobus Landman described the incident as an “adrenaline rush”, adding that they did not have time to think about anything other than catching the suspects.

Police recovered firearms, a blue light, several cellphones and a “large sum of money” from the suspects.

It was discovered that their car had been hijacked in Umlazi in July.

The suspects are believed to have been connected to other robberies in the Ladysmith and Newcastle areas, including the recent robbery at a pension payout point in Ekuvukeni near Ladysmith last week.

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