Restaurant gang killed

2009-09-15 00:00

POLICE have shot and killed three armed robbers of a gang that has been terrorising upmarket restaurants and pubs in posh Durban suburbs.

Minutes after the suspects robbed patrons and staff at the Cockle Jacks bar in Percy Osborne Street near Morningside, police ambushed them and a shoot-out occurred. The suspects were killed instantly.

It has also emerged that the men were linked to the fatal shooting of Marc Joubert, who was shot and killed during a robbery at the St Tropez restaurant in Musgrave in Durban in 2007.

During that robbery, six robbers burst into the restaurant and held up diners. Joubert was killed during a scuffle.

The dead suspects are believed to have been members of a gang that has been terrorising restaurants in the Berea, Glenwood, Musgrave and Morningside areas.

Two suspects were shot dead in separate incidents while another was shot dead by police in 2008. Police confirmed that all six members of the gang are now dead.

On Sunday, police followed up on a tip-off and monitored the pub until the suspects arrived on scene.

Inside, there were 10 customers having drinks on the balcony.

Michael Mthiyane, a barman, told The Witness that the men walked in unnoticed and sat down near the pool tables.

“One of the men approached me and asked me for some coins for the pool table. He took the money and walked away. Then another man came to buy a drink,” he said.

Several minutes later, when Mthiyane looked up, he saw a gun pointed at his head.

“They told me that they wanted the money in the till. I opened it and gave them the R1 000 that was inside, but they wanted more,” he said.

With his trembling hands, Mthiyane tried to open the second till but couldn’t.

“They shouted and told me that if I didn’t open the till immediately, they would kill me. I thought these were the last seconds of my life. All I see was this gun in front of me,” he said.

While Mthiyane was emptying the tills, the other two suspects robbed the patrons of their cellphones, money and bank cards.

“After they robbed us, they made us lie flat on the ground. I’m sure everyone thought these animals were going to kill us,” he said.

Mthiyane said he heard gunshots when the men left the pub. “I couldn’t see anything. All I heard was gunshots and a woman screaming. I didn’t know whether they were still inside or not. I still can picture the one man holding the gun to my head,” he said.

Police spokesman Superintendent Vincent Mdunge said: “Officers approached the suspects and ordered them to surrender and to submit to arrest. The suspects opened fire in the direction of the members of the police and police officers returned fire.”

Three firearms, a shotgun, a 9mm pistol and a .38 revolver were recovered from the scene.

A case of armed robbery and an inquest have been opened.

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