PMB family get their own back

2009-08-20 00:00

THE quick reaction and bravery of a Pietermaritzburg family led to the arrest of armed robbers who robbed a family business for the second time in six weeks.

In a “once bitten, twice shy” situation yesterday, the owner of PMB Forestry supplies, Sagie Naidoo, and his son Merglin gave chase to men who robbed the family in June.

Three men armed with a gun and a knife held up the Naidoo family, including Naidoo’s wife Sheila, and took cash and cellphones before they ran away from the business at 16 West Street, which had been robbed previously on June 25.

PMB Forestry repairs and sells garden equipment. In the previous robbery, equipment and cash to the value of R30 000 was taken.

Naidoo said that in June, the suspects came into the shop a day before the robbery to ask about prices and promised to return.

On the following day, they came in and robbed Naidoo before fleeing in a white Mazda Midge that had been parked outside.

Using the same modus operandi as the previous robbery, two men entered the business and pretended to be customers who wished to buy some garden equipment. While Naidoo was offering assistance to one of the suspects, the other dialled a number on his cellphone, but did not talk, said Naidoo. Apparently, he was giving a signal to a third suspect to come in.

“As soon as the third guy entered the door, I recognised him from the previous robbery,” said Sheila.

Naidoo said one of the suspects was “conspicuous, it was easy to recognise him”.

“I said to my son ‘watch out’ and he quickly pressed the panic button.”

At gunpoint, the whole family was ordered to lie down and one of the suspects closed the front and back doors to prevent staff or customers from entering the shop.

“While we were down, I did not know what to think, but my greatest fear was that my son would try and resist. I said to him, ‘Do as you are told’,” said Sheila. One of the suspects had a gun and the other one had a knife. “I said; ‘please take [anything] and go,’ and he grabbed the money box and took Merglin’s and my cellphone,” said Naidoo.

The robbers left the shaken family and ran away with the cash. Naidoo said it was not a substantial amount of money. Merglin and his father jumped into the family bakkie and followed the suspects.

“We saw them running up Hoosen Haffajee [Berg] Street. My son wanted to follow them, but I thought it was dangerous. I said we must turn back and wait for the police, but as we turned, we saw a police kombi at the corner of Boom and West streets.”

Naidoo reported the crime to the police and urged them to chase the suspects. The first suspect was caught in Greyling Street and the police recovered the stolen cellphones and cashbox.

“The other two suspects jumped over a fence and ran away, but it was not too long before the police caught up with the second one. He had jumped into a swimming pool at one of the residences.”

The Pietermaritzburg dog unit was called in to search for the third suspect. The third man was caught hiding in a backyard. In less than an hour, all three suspects were captured.

“It’s luck that we followed them, and we have to take our hats off to the police for a job well done,” said Naidoo.

SAPS spokesman Senior Superintendent Henry Budhram said the suspects are aged 25, 26 and 56. They are expected to appear in the Pietermaritzburg Magistrate’s Court tomorrow on charges of armed robbery and possession of an unlicensed firearm. The suspects are believed to be linked to several other robberies in the city centre.

‘It’s luck that we followed them, and we have to take our hats off to the police for a job well done.’ — businessman Sagie Naidoo

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