TWO armed robbers have died after a dramatic car chase and shoot-out with police in the city yesterday. The drama started when five gunmen allegedly robbed Osman’s Cash and Carry in Manchester Road yesterday morning. A customer, Greytown nurse Zanele Shangase, told The Witness that she was terrified. “They nearly killed us. As one of the men approached me, I told them that I was a shopper, not an employee,” said Shangase. She heard one of them shouting that they must get out of the shop as there was a suspicious driver in the car park phoning the police. The suspects fled along Ohrtmann Road and sped onto the N3 towards Durban. According to police spokesperson Captain Thulani Zwane, members of the Pietermaritzburg Highway Patrol Unit and the Pietermaritzburg K9 Unit who were patrolling spotted the getaway Yaris on the N3 and gave chase. “The suspects took the Market Road off-ramp into Mkondeni and fled along C.B. Downs Road,” said Zwane. Metro Distributors cleaner Thembelihle Nxumalo said she heard the loud noise of the police car chase and wanted to see what was happening. She saw the Yaris try to make a U-turn at the robots on C.B. Downs and Portland Road but it knocked into a tree, crossing the road and crashing into the pavement. She said the alleged robbers jumped out and fired shots at the police, who returned fire. One suspected robber died at the scene and another died later in hospital. Two of the suspects had run into a train tunnel to try and escape, but were later arrested near Ashburton where police lay in wait for them. “It was like in the movies the way everything unfolded. I couldn’t believe what was happening in front of my eyes,” said Nxumalo. Another eye-witness, Jay Khan of Metro Distribution, praised police. “They deserve an award for this, as they were not even wearing bullet-proof vests,” said Khan. Zwane said police recovered a large undisclosed amount of cash, two cellphones and a watch, which were believed to have been stolen from Osman’s. He said one suspect is believed to be wanted for an armed robbery incident in uMlazi. The three men who were arrested will appear in court on charges of armed robbery and attempted murder. Pietermaritzburg Chamber of Business CEO Melanie Veness yesterday urged business owners and members of the public to be more vigilant and to report any suspicious behaviour to security or the police. She applauded police for their swift action and said police had assured her that there would be a much stronger police presence at retail outlets during the holiday period, with plainclothes police deployed. Osman’s management declined to comment yesterday.