Robbers wreak havoc in Umhlanga, five arrested

2014-06-06 00:00

BULLETS flew in Umhlanga Ridge as a gang of business robbers led police on a high-speed chase that ended in a shoot-out on Wednesday night.

Two of the alleged robbers were badly wounded in the exchange of gunfire, and were arrested along with three of their cohorts.

It is understood that the armed gang had prised their way into an electronics retailer near Gateway shopping centre and had made their escape with a range of high-end products.

Police on patrol happened upon the “suspicious” looking car that sped off when the occupants noticed they were being followed.

Police spokesperson Captain Thulani Zwane said that officers told of how the driver of the Toyota Corolla was behaving in a suspicious manner.

“They started to follow the vehicle and when the occupants noticed that they were being followed, they sped off. Police gave chase and it is alleged that they shot towards the members and the members returned fire. The vehicle stopped at Umhlanga Rocks near the garage and five suspects attempted to run away,” Zwane added.

He said that two of the robbers had been wounded in the course of the chase and had been apprehended. “They were all arrested and two of them sustained gunshot wounds. They will be charged with attempted murder and possession of stolen property.

“They will appear in the Durban Magistrate’s Court soon. The vehicle was stolen from the Berea area. Housebreaking implements were found in the vehicle,” he said.

A source close to the investigation, who could not be named as he is not authorised to speak to the press, said that various housebreaking implements including bolt cutters were found in the car.

The source added that the suspects would be linked to several similar break-ins in Durban.

Shell Garage owner Colin Bouwer said high drama played out at the forecourt.

“The staff could hear the shooting and it looks like the robbers tried to get away in the petrol station. The car screeched to a halt and one of the guys tried to hide inside the shop but he quickly surrendered along with the others. The police were pointing their guns at them as they lay on the floor.

“The police and all the emergency personnel did an amazing job and they need to be applauded,” Bouwer said.

KwaZulu-Natal MEC for Transport, Community Safety and Liaison Willies Mchunu yesterday issued a statement saying he was concerned at the number of incidents where policemen where coming under fire from criminals.

“This unfortunate and disturbing trend where police come under while conducting their legal work is totally unacceptable. Those who act in such a thuggish fashion will be harshly dealt with and will face the full might of the law.

“We just cannot accept such thuggish behaviour. Police officers are the only shield for defenceless communities and, as such, should not be targets of criminals,” said MEC Mchunu.

In recent weeks police have hit gangs of robbers and hijackers hard …

• On Monday, a dramatic car chase preceded a shoot-out amid busy traffic on the N2 between police and a gang of suspected armed robbers near Umhlanga. One of the alleged robbers was killed in the gunfight, two others were seriously injured and a fourth emerged from the fracas unscathed. The high-speed chase came to a dramatic end when the gang opened fire on officers who had given chase.

• Last month, police swooped on four housebreaking and hijacking suspects on the N2. The gang is believed to be responsible for housebreakings and an attempted housebreaking committed in Durban North. Sydenham police, Durban K9 unit and Metro police gave chase and cornered their Mercedes-Benz, causing the driver to lose control and crash the car. Traffic came to a standstill on the N2 as the men tried to flee. The Mercedes-Benz had been hijacked in Chatsworth two weeks before.

• Also last month, four robbers and at least two bystanders were shot in a police gunfight in Pinetown so chaotic that a pedestrian was also killed by a fleeing victim. At the end of a bloody 10 minutes between two shoot-out scenes at either end of a dramatic car chase, two civilians were dead, and four gang members wounded — including one who staggered to a second car and escaped.

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