Life of crime ends fatally for four gangsters

2014-04-11 00:00

FOUR men who lived by the gun died in a hail of police gunfire in Pinetown, after a desperate two-week crime spree.

On Wednesday night, five young men travelling in a dark VW Golf crashed into a private vehicle on Richmond Road in Mariannhill — according to local neighbourhood watch patrollers — in a dramatic end to a high-speed chase with police from Malvern. Four sprang from the car and all four allegedly opened fire on Malvern crime prevention officers with handguns. All four were shot dead by police, while the fifth suspect escaped on foot.

The Witness has linked the men to at least three house robberies in Mariannhill alone this month, which suggests the men were increasingly desperate to switch cars and cash in.

Justin Bosse, head of the Ashley Residents Neighbourhood Watch, said a resident of Green Lane, Ashley, arrived home two weeks ago to find his son with his hands in the air — and four armed men holding them up. Their dark VW Golf was parked outside.

On Monday night, four young men in a dark VW drove straight into Chandra Govender’s private garage at his home in Nagina, Mariannhill. The car had an Eastern Cape registration. Govender had left his gates and doors open, expecting a delivery from his nephew.

Govender said the men walked into the house and forced the family to sit on the floor in a bedroom, as they packed Govender’s Toyota Hilux with household goods — even the kettle.

“They threatened us with guns; it was awful — my grandson was there,” said Govender.

“I’ve never experienced anything like this in 15 years here. They packed all my stuff in my van, and took the keys from my pocket. They took jewellery, cash, the hi-fi, a laptop, a kettle and the microwave oven.”

Govender said he was “shocked” to learn the same men are believed to have fired on police two nights later. “We were very lucky,” he said.

The Netstar tracking company was able to track the Hilux on a winding route through Wyebank and other Highway suburbs to a point in KwaDabeka, where the robbers abandoned it.

But later on Tuesday, armed men matching their precise description — driving a dark VW with EC number plates — attempted a hijack at a private home in Pineridge, according to Bosse.

One night later, at around 7.30 pm, Malvern police noticed “a suspicious-looking black VW Golf”, which fled when they signalled for it to halt, according to police spokesperson Captain Thulani Zwane. The chase toward Mariannhill led to the fatal shoot-out.

“Four unlicensed firearms were found from the scene and will be taken for ballistic tests to establish if they were used in any other crimes in the country,” said Zwane.

“The Independent Police Investigative Directorate was informed of the death of the suspects and were in attendance at the scene,” Captain Zwane added.

KZN SAPS commissioner Lieutenant-General Mmamonnye Ngobeni said she was “concerned” with the brazen attack on police officers.

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