Car chase after ‘foiled gem heist’

2014-09-12 00:00

AN alleged would-be jewel thief led security guards and bystanders on a dramatic car chase through Umhlanga after a shootout that sent people diving for cover yesterday.

The chase traced a path though suburban roads in Umhlanga and La Lucia, before ending in a hot pursuit bound for Durban.

The fleet-footed suspect managed to evade those chasing him and remains at large.

Good Samaritan Shane Botha led the chase, pushing his car to the limit to catch the fleeing man, who is believed to have been planning a jewel heist.

Botha said that he had stopped outside the Jewel Exchange store moments before the gunfire erupted.

“I know the owners and I usually stop in every afternoon. As I got out of my car I greeted the owner and he said that he couldn’t talk because there was a sting,” he said.

Botha told The Witness the owners of the store had apparently got wind that there was going to be a robbery and he had two armed guards hiding in the back of the building.

“As he said those words to me this guy walked out of the next store and when he realised he was parked in, he jumped into his bakkie and sped away, ramping onto the pavement and almost running me over.

“I think this guy came to scope the place out and then got spooked when he realised that he was parked in.

“As he drove off, a security guard ran out and fired four shots at the car. People who were walking nearby were scared to death and everyone was ducking for cover.

“I shouted to the guard to get into my car and we started chasing the bakkie which had sped into the suburbs,” he said.

The pursuit led Botha and the guard around Umhlanga and eventually onto the freeway.

“He obviously didn’t know the area because he had driven into a dead end and then almost hit us when he was speeding out. We chased him through the traffic and he was forcing everyone off the road trying to make his way to the freeway.

“People were obviously thinking that I was trying to squeeze in as well so they were blocking me, all while I had this security guard hanging out of my window with a gun drawn,” he said.

“We got onto the freeway and he was so desperate to get away he was straddling the white line in the middle of the lanes trying to get past cars. I eventually got stuck behind other traffic and lost him as he was heading towards the city.”

Another eyewitness, John Howard, said the dramatic shooting had rocked the upmarket suburb.

“There was high drama here with a shootout and a car chase,” he said.

Police spokespeople could not be reached at the time of going to press last night.

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