Robbers make off with R4 mln after brazen bank robbery

2013-11-08 00:00

FIVE minutes was all it took for brazen robbers, armed with heavy calibre firearms, to rob SBV (Standard, Barclays, and Volkskas) guards of R4 million in the Greytown CBD yesterday morning.

The “wild west” shoot-out in the middle of the morning left many shoppers in Pine Street running for cover, when armed SBV guards opened fire on the six robbers who then retaliated. Police confirmed that the money collected from the Absa bank branch was taken in the heist by the six robbers.

The suspects fled the scene in a white Toyota bakkie, which was later found abandoned, smeared with bloodstains, in a nearby plantation.

An eye-witness, who did not want to be named, said he was a mere 50 metres away from the bank when the incident occurred. He described the five minute heist as “slick and well planned with military precision”.

“I heard the robber shouting at the guard, ‘Leave this f****** money and go if you know what is good for you,’ before pulling the bags of money off the trolley and making a run for it,” the witness said.

“At the same time the armed guard opened fire on the robbers before getting to the safety of their bulletproof vehicle,” said the witness.

He said people began screaming and ducking for cover as soon as they heard gunshots.

“I can’t begin to explain how cool and calm the robbers were. As they drove off, they even fired shots in the air, to make sure no-one gave chase,” said the witness.

Local security company owner Sudesh Maharaj of Field Security said he had received information about the robbery and was on his way back to Greytown when he came across the white bakkie that “turned right in front of me and went into the plantation”.

They had waited for police and then had given chase, he said. They had found the bakkie with blood stains on it and empty money bags. He added that they had ascertained that the getaway bakkie had been stolen on Wednesday night in Pietermaritzburg.

No suspects have been arrested. Police have alerted hospitals and clinics to be on the look-out for the suspects seeking medical help.

South African Banking Risk Information Centre (SABRIC) advised that an increase in bank robberies could be expected during this time of year.

SABRIC CEO Kalyani Pillay said as the festive season approached, people became more desperate for money.

“This desperation may lead to robberies like the heist that occurred at Absa bank [yesterday]. This increase is not limited to bank robberies,” she said.

• Niyanta.Singh@witness.co.za

*A Durban man has opened a case of armed robbery at the Pinetown Police station after he was robbed of an undisclosed amount of cash yesterday.

Police said the victim was accosted by three armed suspects as soon as he left the Kloof FNB branch.

Police spokesperson Thulani Zwane said no arrests had been made and investigations continue.

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