Runaway robbers kill cops

2009-04-28 00:00

TWO Durban policemen, a truck driver and a robber were killed during a “Wild West” shoot-out after an armed robbery in the Durban city centre yesterday.

The city centre came to a standstill as police launched a massive manhunt for the five suspects who had robbed the KCG import/export business in Shepstone Road in the Mahatma Gandhi (Point) Road area at 11 am yesterday. The men held up staff before escaping with an undisclosed amount of cash.

Almost 50 police vehicles were used to cordon off the area, while crime scene experts combed the area for evidence. There were concerns that the suspects were hiding in nearby buildings.

Chaos erupted as two gun-wielding suspects ran down Smith Street, one of the city’s busiest streets, and threatened to shoot bystanders who were in their way.

The drama began when police patrolling the area responded to a radio call about the armed robbery and saw two suspects running down Smith Street.

One of the suspects, wearing a black T-shirt, shouted at pedestrians to move out of the way or he would shoot them.

A second suspect ran towards the Workshop shopping centre, followed by a large crowd who tried to apprehend him.

An eyewitness told The Witness that police followed a suspect in the police van and told him to stop running. “The man changed direction and ran towards Acutt Street. This is where two policemen confronted him and a shoot-out occurred,” he said.

He said a gun battle between policemen and the suspect continued on Victoria Embankment and bullets “flew all over the place”.

A Metro policeman was shot twice in the abdomen and was rushed St Augustine’s Hospital where he was in a critical, but stable condition. The gunman was rushed to a local hospital where he died on arrival.

During the Victoria Embankment shoot-out, police received a report that two suspects were hiding inside the KCG building.

“Two police reservists entered the building and confronted the suspects.

“One suspect was apprehended, while the other ran into a small enclosure at the back of the building,” said a source.

A police reservist set off in pursuit of the suspect, who opened fire on him.

“The policeman pursued the suspect, who ambushed him before shooting him several times.

“The suspect was also wounded in the shoot-out. The other policeman also pursued the suspect but was also shot dead,” the source said.

Head of Durban’s organised crime unit, Rajen Aiyer, said the victims’ colleagues are in shock over the shootings.

Some hovered over the bodies, shaking their heads in disbelief. Others had to be counselled after the shooting.

It is believed that the wife of one of the policemen who died in the robbery had given birth to their first child on Monday, but this was not confirmed by police.

The names of the dead police had not yet been released by the time of going to print, yesterday.

Police spokesman Superintendent Vincent Mdunge said three suspects were arrested, while another is still at large. The fifth suspect was shot dead.

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