Five robbers shot dead, two escape after shootout with police

2016-04-05 11:30
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Pietermaritzburg - The hunt is on for two men involved in an armed robbery syndicate after five of their accomplices were gunned down by police in Mooi River on Sunday.

It is believed the pair are in possession of a large sum of cash stolen from an Estcourt business on Sunday.

According to Hawks spokesperson Major Robert Netshiunda, the gang members had robbed a supermarket in Estcourt on Sunday afternoon and were making off with their loot when the confrontation happened.

It is believed the seven-strong gang entered the store armed with high-powered firearms and held up the owner, staff and customers before making off with goods and cash.

According to a police source, the gang members then escaped in two vehicles and headed towards Mooi River.

Netshiunda said officers from the Hawks, Crime Intelligence, Durban K9 Unit and members of a special task force were rushing to the supermarket where the robbery occurred when they came face to face with the gang along the R103, just outside Mooi River.

A police source said the officers had information on the make and model of the getaway vehicles and were “keeping an eye out” for their whereabouts.

The officers signalled for the vehicles the men were travelling in to stop, Netshiunda said. “Instead of obeying the order, the men sped off and started shooting at the officers.” A high-speed chase then ensued with the gang and police officers exchanging fire.

One getaway vehicle then came to a halt and the gunmen exited the vehicle, firing in the direction of the police officers.

The officers retaliated, and three robbers were shot dead during the gunbattle.

The remaining gang members fled into nearby bushes, with the officers in pursuit.

The police came upon the robbers about two kilometres into the bush, where another exchange of fire took place. A further two robbers were killed.

However, two escaped and are thought to have the stolen cash on them.

A police officer wounded in the incident was taken to hospital.

Five firearms, including an AK47, an R5 rifle and three 9mm pistols, as well as 60 rounds of live ammunition, were found in the gang members’ vehicle. Boxes of cigarettes and airtime, which were allegedly stolen during the robbery, were also found.

The second getaway vehicle used by the two remaining gang members was found abandoned just outside Estcourt.

However, there was no sign of the remaining two.

• amil.umraw@witness.co.za

Read more on:    pietermaritzburg  |  shooting  |  robbery

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