Crime wave: Robbers hit pension points, flee with millions

2015-07-01 12:31
A superstore in Durban was hit by a gang of armed robbers targeting ATMs. (Supplied)

A superstore in Durban was hit by a gang of armed robbers targeting ATMs. (Supplied)

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Durban - Three retail outlets have been struck by armed robbers in the space of 12 hours in what appear to be carefully orchestrated month-end raids.

Police are now probing the link between the three robberies, which have seen robbers make off with pension payout funds thought to be valued in the millions.

Meanwhile, in Pretoria, nine pensioners were shot and wounded during a cash-heist at around 06:00 at the Soshanguve Mall on Wednesday, Gauteng police said.

The elderly people had arrived at the mall to collect their pension payouts.

Lieutenant Colonel Lungelo Dlamini said about 10 suspects confronted Fidelity security guards who were delivering money at a pension pay point.

In Durban, the first attack saw a gang of heavily-armed men storming the Boxer Punch store in Pine Street in central Durban on Tuesday night.

Approached by five suspects’

Police spokesperson Colonel Jay Naicker said the store was being closed when the gunmen struck.

“The victim was closing the store with his colleagues when they were approached by five suspects. At gunpoint the suspects took cash, cellphones and DVD recorders before fleeing the crime scene in an unknown direction. A case of business robbery was opened at Durban Central Saps and no arrest or recoveries have been made,” he said.

Hours later, a gang of heavily armed robbers escaped with hundreds of thousands of rands in pension payout funds after a dramatic heist at Boxer Superstore in Clermont, Durban, on Wednesday morning.

An employee was injured when the brazen gang detonated explosives they had laid around an in-store ATM.

A police source, who could not be named, was one of the first officers to attend the scene.

Shrapnel everywhere

He told of how the explosive charges completely destroyed the cash machine, sending hunks of shrapnel flying through the shop.

“When the store had opened for business this morning a group of men, as many as ten, had rushed through the doors brandishing handguns and assault rifles. They were definitely well armed and well versed in this kind of robbery,” the source said.

“They forced all of the people inside the shop to lie on the ground while they went straight to the pension pay out point. They worked the cover off the outside of the cash machine and then set the explosives, which detonated in the shop.”

The officer said before the dust had settled, the robbers had already made their way to the blast site to collect the money.

“Once the charges blew they were gone. They all fled through the same way that they came in. The amount of money that was stolen is still being calculated, but we expect it to be a large amount,” he said.

Undisclosed amount of cash

Naicker said the robbers took an undisclosed amount of cash and fled the scene in their white Toyota double cab bakkie.

In another incident on Wednesday morning, robbers had rushed inside the shop in Stanger where they too targeted the pension payout point.

It is understood that as much as R500 000 had been delivered yesterday.

Naicker said that the gunmen had discharged their weapons inside the store as they entered.

“They took an undisclosed amount of cash before fleeing the scene. Shots were fired but no one was injured. A case of business robbery was opened at KwaDukuza SAPS for investigation and no arrests or recoveries made,” he said.

IPSS Medical Rescue spokesperson Dylan Meyrick said that medics had examined the staff members at the scene and that while they were visibly shaken, no one had been hurt.

Stores being targeted 

Boxer Superstores Marketing Director Andrew Mills confirmed that two of their stores had been targeted.

“There was an armed robbery at the Punch Store in Pine Street last night and this morning a gang of men targeted the Sassa pension payout point inside the store.”

“We are on an armed robbery alert system and we get updates on what happens around the country and we are of the view that this is not a Boxer specific attack and that the two cases are not connected,” Mills said.

“Over the past two years we have reduced the amount of cash we hold on site because of awareness among criminals that at month end, pension pay-outs take place.  Since then we have actually seen a slowdown on crime.

“We have an in-house security system so we try making it as difficult as possible for criminals. This is done with uniformed and undercover guards in all our stores. We understand the risks of this game and we have a duty to our customers to pay social grants and if we stopped it would actually be a disservice to them,” he said.

Read more on:    police  |  pretoria  |  durban  |  crime

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