Armed robbers in wheelchairs

2013-06-15 00:00

A FIDELITY security guard was shot in the back by armed men pretending to be wheelchair-bound grant recipients at a pension paypoint outside Hammarsdale yesterday.

The guard was part of a team dispensing cash to a pension payout point in Mpumalanga township at around 9.30 am, when 10 heavily armed suspects robbed them. The suspects took an undisclosed amount of cash and fled in an Opel Corsa bakkie.

According to provincial police spokesperson Colonel Jay Naicker, the Mpumalanga SAPS and Pinetown Tactical Response Team officers pursued the vehicle.

“The suspects started shooting at the police officers and they returned fire. The suspects abandoned their vehicle and boarded a Quantum minibus taxi. The police continued pursuing the robbers and the gun battle between the police and robbers continued. The suspects got out of the Quantum and confronted police, shooting at police cars with automatic fire. Police returned fire and arrested one suspect who was injured and another who was unharmed,” said Naicker.

The police recovered two AK47 rifles, an Uzzi machine gun, the money box and two vehicles used by the suspects. It is not known if all the money was recovered. The police continued pursuit and arrested the driver of the minibus. The injured guard was airlifted to a Pietermaritzburg hospital.

ER24 spokesperson Derrick Banks said: “The security guard was shot in the back. He is critical.”

Hennie Myburgh, legal counsel for Fidelity Security Group, said he hoped that the security guard would recover fully.

“The guard was shot at close range. Thankfully he was just wounded and taken to hospital swiftly. The bulk of the money was not taken, and the police were fast in their response. Some of the suspects were masquerading in wheelchairs,” said Myburgh.

The injured suspect was taken to hospital under police guard and all three suspects will be charged with robbery with aggravating circumstances, attempted murder, possession of unlicensed firearms and ammunition, and motor vehicle theft. They will appear in the Mpumalanga Magistrate’s Court soon.

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