Wild shots in N2 ambush

2015-07-31 07:56
(File, Shutterstock)

(File, Shutterstock)

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A BAKKIE occupied by suspects wanted for a R3,9 million cash heist in Greytown, burst through the Tongaat tollgate and a chase ensued before the bakkie stopped and two alleged robbers were arrested.

The arrests were made on February 16 last year — three months after the robbery — after police received information that the suspects would be travelling south along the N2 and were given a description of their vehicle.

This evidence was led yesterday at the trial of seven men charged with robbing security guards busy moving money from Absa bank in Greytown to their armoured vehicle on November 7, 2013.

During a massive shootout between guards and robbers in the street, three women at the ATM came under fire, and 11 cars were damaged by flying bullets.

The court has heard that 150 spent cartridges and live rounds were recovered in the wake of the gun battle.

Afterwards the robber gang sped away in a stolen vehicle with their loot.

The men on trial — Ayanda Sishi (32), Spezela Ntuli (30), Basopha Ntuli (27), Shelezile Mahlaba (39), Mjabuliseni Ntuli (33), Siphiwe Khuzwayo (35) and Myekeni Buthelezi (26) — pleaded not guilty to charges of theft of a motor vehicle, robbery with aggravating circumstances, attempted murder, malicious damage to property and (some accused only), to unlawful possession of firearms and ammunition. Yesterday, organised crime unit investigator, Warrant Officer Johannes Wolfaard described how he and dog unit member Warrant Officer Reeno Dayaram waited along the N2 for the red Toyota Hilux bakkie the bank heist suspects would be travelling in from Mandini towards Durban.

Wolfaard said he and Dayaram, driving an unmarked Golf GTI, kept watch from different positions on the N2. When it got dark they moved to the Blythe­dale off-ramp.

At about 9.20 pm he saw the red Hilux driving towards Durban, and they contacted the police task force and other units who were waiting at the toll plazas.

“The plan was to follow the vehicle to the Tongaat toll plaza where the task force was in position,” he said.

Wolfaard said when the Hilux entered the toll bay he drove up behind it to stop it reversing. Members of the police task force came running up from the left and right with their firearms drawn, dressed in camouflage uniform.

“When they got to the vehicle it sped off. It burst through the boom gate and the gate bent upwards. Me and Dayaram also drove through,” said Wolfaard.

He said as the Hilux sped off he heard the task force shooting at it, and he shouted to them to stop shooting because he and Dayaram were then in the line of fire. He said the bakkie raced away and they followed. About 200 metres from the toll gate the Hilux came to a sudden halt. The driver (later identified as accused Basopha Ntuli) jumped out and ran towards the bushes pointing a pistol in their direction. They had shouted that they were police officers.

Wolfaard said Dayaram fired five shots and released his dog as Ntuli continued running to the bushes.

Wolfaard said he ran to the Hilux which remained parked, pointed his gun towards it and instructed the occupants to stay where they were. The left passenger door was open and he saw accused, Sphezela Ntuli, sitting there. Next to him were a woman and a child, and four other males laid in the bin. Wolfaard said he instructed Ntuli to get out and lie down while he searched him. He had recovered a 9 mm pistol with 11 live rounds in it and no serial number from his right hip.

In his pockets he found a packet wrapped in toilet paper with 14 more live 9 mm rounds. He also found two cellphones and eight Sim cards in Ntuli’s possession, and placed him under arrest. He said while he was busy with him, other policemen who arrived were searching the others on the bakkie.

Dayaram returned with Basopha Ntuli in tow and had also recovered a firearm from him. Basopha Ntuli was subsequently taken to hospital.

The case is proceeding

Read more on:    pietermaritzburg  |  court

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