Mysterious bags stolen in KZN armed heist

2015-05-29 07:59
The two cars involved in an armed heist on Oribi Road. The Fortuner, carrying the suspects, allegedly slammed into the Toyota bakkie before the suspects opened fire on it.

The two cars involved in an armed heist on Oribi Road. The Fortuner, carrying the suspects, allegedly slammed into the Toyota bakkie before the suspects opened fire on it. (Jonathan Burton, The Witness)

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Pietermaritzburg - “We saw a guy with a big gun, almost longer than himself, so we pulled the car around and drove off.”

This was a Pietermaritzburg man’s reaction when he came face to face with seven AK47-wielding gunmen on Oribi Road just outside the airport on Thursday.

According to police sources, who could not be named, a Johannesburg-based security company had fetched three sealed duffel bags that came on a plane from Johannesburg on Thursday morning.

Three security guards in a white unmarked Toyota Hilux fetched the bags and, as they headed along Oribi Road towards Scottsville, a Toyota Fortuner rammed head-on into their vehicle.

The guards came under fire by more than seven men with AK47s, some from the Fortuner and others from two fast hatchbacks parked nearby.

It is believed the gunmen threatened to set the bakkie alight before removing the bags from the Hilux.

The gunmen made off with the bags, with police saying late on Thursday it was still unknown what they contained. Sources said speculation was that they contained large amounts of cash or diamonds.

The gunmen raced away in the hatchbacks, a red Golf 6 GTI and a white Ford Focus ST, both believed to have been stolen in the Durban area.

They made their way to the Bisley Nature Reserve, where they abandoned the cars, got into another vehicle and fled.

According to a police source, the gunmen also took the guards’ firearms, but left these in the hatchbacks when they fled from the nature reserve.

ER24’s Paul Knoesen said one of the guards was seriously injured and was taken to St Anne’s Hospital while the other two guards were shaken up.

A man who was driving on Oribi Road as the heist took place said he saw a man standing in the middle of the road with a “big gun” in his hand.

Fearful, the man, who asked not to be named, said he quickly turned his car around and took off in the opposite direction.

“While driving towards the airport, a driver in a Mercedes sped past us, flashing his lights as if to warn us,” the man said.

Pietermaritzburg resident Johann Strydom believes he came face to face with the assailants when a Fortuner crashed into his vehicle while speeding towards Oribi.

Strydom said he had fetched a co-worker from the airport and had turned into Oribi Road when a white Fortuner slammed into his vehicle.

“The driver did not stop or slow down. I turned my vehicle around and chased him up past Long Road towards Murray Road. Unfortunately at this point I lost him as another vehicle cut me off,” he said.

“Maybe I was fortunate in not catching up to him.”

Pietermaritzburg police spokesperson Mthokozisi Ngobese said the Fortuner was believed to have been stolen from the Howick area.

“We are not sure who the victims are and what the bags contained. The investigators are focusing on tracing the criminals and will interview the victims later,” he said.

“When they were asked at the scene, the victims said they were transporting the bags but were not sure what they contained,” Ngobese said.

“Police are still on the chase and investigations are continuing.”

Airport manager Alvin Naidoo said they had no idea what the bags had contained as they were “high-security bags”.

He denied a source’s claim that all staff who had had anything to do with the relevant flight were to be questioned.

Read more on:    pietermaritzburg  |  heists  |  crime

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