Nine people were killed, including two police officers, in a cash-in-transit heist in Nongoma, KwaZulu-Natal, on Friday night, police spokesperson Brigadier Vish Naidu said on Saturday.
"During a brazen attack on a cash-in-transit vehicle last night two of our police officers lost their lives, seven suspects were killed and a woman was wounded," said Naidu.
The police's special task force (STF) and crime intelligence (CI) units were following up on intelligence regarding a planned attack on a money van when a group of heavily armed people attacked the vehicle with explosives at around 19:00 on the Hlabisa road.
The police responded quickly but there was a shootout between them and the robbers.
"Seven suspects, a member from CI and the STF member were killed during the skirmish. A female member who was shot in the leg is currently receiving medical treatment."
So far, four AK-47 assault rifles have been recovered. The BMW driven by the suspects was reportedly used during other robberies, including one recently at a Nongoma Shell garage.
National Police Commissioner General Khehla Sitole conveyed his deepest condolences to families of the police officers and wished the wounded police officer a speedy recovery.
"This is yet another sad day for both the South African Police Service as well as South Africa at large for every time the life of a police officer is lost in combat, the nation mourns", said Sitole in a statement.
"I offer my highest praise to the all our colleagues that have once again put their lives on the line to bring hardened and selfish criminals to book", he said.