Robbers hit Durban

2014-11-25 00:00

THREE ­cash-in-transit heists that rocked Durban bode ill for stores in eThekwini.

Robbers yesterday targeted cash courier ­companies in two ­well-orchestrated raids, soon after police launched their annual festive season crime crackdown.

The two cash-in-transit heists followed a ­similar robbery in Mariannhill at the weekend, in which a gang of 15 heavily armed men disarmed two unsuspecting police officers before using explosives to blow a safe out of a wall.

Experts warned cash-in-transit heists were expected to rise as shops across the city ­attempted to bank their ­Christmas takings.

In yesterday’s heists, cops ran from pillar to post in response to two separate heists that ­happened in close succession.

In the first robbery, three armed men ­surrounded a cash-in-transit security guard at a petrol station in Chris Hani (North Coast) Road while the officer carried money from the store. After stripping him of the cash box, gunmen fired six gunshots before fleeing on foot.

Their scheme unravelled due to prompt ­police response and a getaway car that was parked too far away.

Police spokesperson Colonel Jay Naicker said the officers in pursuit exchanged shots with three suspects, chasing them as they ran nearly 600 metres along a railway line with the stolen cash box as well as a firearm. The fourth suspect was cornered by police in the ­get-away car. The car had been stolen in the Pinetown area.

In the other robbery, the criminals struck the ­Nedbank in Intersite Road, Springfield Park. A police source, who could not be named, said three men armed with handguns accosted a bank customer who had been carrying nearly R200 000. “They easily stripped the man of the cash and fled in a vehicle which had tinted windows,” the source said.

The weekend’s robbery at a petrol station in Mariannhill saw an estimated 15 gunmen storm the store, armed with high-calibre ­assault rifles.

The robbers quickly disarmed two police officers who had been inside the ­convenience store.

In the fracas, a customer was wounded in the leg while trying to flee the scene.

The men then used industrial grade explosives to blast a ­drop-safe out of the wall; loaded it onto a bakkie and made their getaway.

Naicker said detectives were investigating a case of attempted murder and business robbery.

• jeff.wicks@witness.co.za

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