Fake guard in daring robbery

2014-04-04 00:00

THERE was not a single gunshot fired, no commotion or gunman brandishing rifles telling everyone to lie down.

Only later, did the shrieks of a terrified woman alert shoppers and business people to a brazen armed robbery in the Pietermaritzburg CBD yesterday.

But by then, the criminal, allegedly dressed in security company uniforms, had made his getaway with an undisclosed amount of money and a security guard’s pistol.

A lone robber, allegedly with back up waiting for him outside, staged a daring cash heist at the Capitec Bank inside the busy Sibusiso Nyembezi building on Boshoff Street at mid-morning yesterday.

The man held up a G4S security employee, and two female employees of Capitec Bank who were loading banknotes into an ATM, robbing them of an undisclosed amount of money.

When The Witness visited the scene yesterday the only indications that something had taken place were the people milling around and talking in corners and the large presence of police and traffic officials walking around the centre.

The bank was closed with security guards restricting access. One of the female employees, who had a gun placed at her head, was being attended to by ER24 paramedics. She was so traumatised that she was rushed to hospital.

Many of the patrons, employees and business people who were present when the robbery unfolded said they were shocked as it had taken place in their presence but they had not suspected a thing.

Police spokesperson Captain Thulani Zwane said a 24-year-old security guard for G4 Security entered the Capitec Bank branch in Symons Centre to deliver a money box to the bank.

He said the standard procedure was followed and the guard was then taken by two female employees to the ATM room to deposit money.

“While inside the room, the guard allegedly opened the money box and was disturbed by the voice of an unknown man behind him saying that he must look down and not look at him. He then felt a gun being pressed against his waist and noticed the two women lying on the floor,” Zwane said.

The gunman then took a money bag and the guard’s company pistol and fled the premises.

No shots were fired and no one sustained any injuries. No one has yet been arrested.

Bank insiders expressed fear that the suspect had possibly used inside information to target the bank.

“It was someone that knew the procedure; he was wearing a G4S security uniform and he instructed the security guard to open the money bag to ensure that the ink was not activated. The incident did not take even five minutes … he knew all the procedures,” said one insider.

Describing how the robbery occured, the source said the gunman instructed the security guard and Capitec employees to remain there until he had made his escape.

People queuing at the ATM were asking what was happening and some wanted to go inside the bank but could not as the bank had been by now locked down.

“I did not see one thing,” said a security guard who did not give his name, who was working at one of the stores close to the bank.

“All I heard were screams and turned around to see a woman crying and there was nothing suggesting that a robbery was in progress.”

Another business person directly next to Capitec said: “You know more than we do, we are in a confined space and we did not see anything.”

The people said they were shocked that criminals could try such a daring raid in such a crowded place. “I’ve been here for five years. Nothing like this or any other attempted robbery has ever happened here,” said one.

G4S was contacted and their local office directed all communication to the national office, but there, the person in charge of communication was not available.

Capitec was contacted for comment but did not respond by the time of going to print.

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