Locals grab gang’s loot

2008-09-01 00:00

Impendle residents helped themselves to up to R50 000 in bank notes that fell out of a bag carried by a robber fleeing after a heist at a pension paypoint yesterday morning.

The drama began at the midlands town’s post office at about 9 am. A police source said the suspect grabbed a bag containing R60 000 and tried to run away. The bag burst open as he leapt a fence, and after he was arrested, only R10 000 was recovered.

The rest was apparently grabbed by passers-by. The suspect was arrested with the help of passers-by and a security guard.

Police spokeswoman Inspector Joey Jeevan said five armed men arrived at the post office in a Nissan bakkie while officials were preparing for the pension payment. Two of the suspects were 51 and 52 years old.

One of them went into the post office pretending to be looking for help.

“He produced a firearm and held up a security guard and a cashier. One of his accomplices disarmed the guard of his shotgun. The other one jumped over the counter and grabbed the bag full of cash,” said Jeevan.

As the man was trying to jump over a concrete fence to get away, after shooting the guard in the arm, a money bag opened and the cash fell out. People came running to grab the money.

Another police source said that out of the R60 000 that was in the bag, only R10 000 was recovered. The source said initially the bag contained R100 000, but the robber arrived after the cashier had just removed R40 000 and put it in drawer.

The source said the robber was assaulted before being handed over to police.

The apprehended man’s four accomplices got into their getaway bakkie, which had no canopy, and drove away — two of them sitting in the open load box.

Impendle police station commissioner Captain Themba Hlongwane and Detective Sergeant Sibonelo Sibiya gave chase to the getaway vehicle.

After about 40 km of high-speed driving on a bumpy dirt road, the gang abandoned the vehicle in the Inzinga area and ran to the mountains.

“But one of them got into a [minibus] taxi destined for Underberg,” said the source.

The other three opened fire on Hlongwane and Sibiya, who retaliated. Later they were caught hiding behind rocks and were arrested.

Jeevan said police recovered a bakkie near a plantation. A revolver was recovered from the suspects.

“It appears that this was an orchestrated robbery because the suspects are from Clermont, Richmond and Impendle,” said Jeevan.

Jeevan appealed to anyone who can help with the arrest of the escaped suspect to call Inspector Swami Pillay on 082 556 1380 or 033 845 8552.

bhans@witness.co.za

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