‘It happened very quick’ - witness recounts latest cash-in-transit heist

2018-06-18 17:19
The scene after the cash-in-transit heist that took place on Jakes Gerwel Drive in Athlone. (Supplied)

The scene after the cash-in-transit heist that took place on Jakes Gerwel Drive in Athlone. (Supplied)

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A witness to the cash-in-transit heist that took place on Jakes Gerwel Drive in Athlone on Monday morning says staff were nervous and didn’t know what to do.

He works near the scene and said he had just arrived for work when he heard gunshots.

"It happened very quick," the witness said.

At first, he thought it was a car backfiring, but the company's security guard shouted that there was a cash-in-transit heist on the go nearby, so everybody ran indoors for cover.

"There was an explosion, said the man.

"You know with the crossfire anything can happen."

He said staff were worried because they did not know what was happening, but were relieved that nobody was injured.

Meanwhile, G4S Cash Solutions has appealed to the public for information to help track down robbers who attacked their armoured vehicle - the latest in a spate of heists countrywide.

"The robbers used commercial explosives to gain access to the vehicle and at this stage, the cash loss is unknown," G4S Solutions Managing Director Keith Alberts said.

"Thankfully, our staff were not injured during this attack," he added.

He also commended the police for their rapid response and for arriving at the scene quickly.

The heist took place on a bridge on Jakes Gerwel Drive - east of the CBD and about 200 metres away from the Philippi police station.

"Anybody with information that could assist in the investigation of this incident is encouraged to contact the [SA Police Service]," said Alberts.

Staff at the company, which has 657 000 employees and operations in more than 125 countries, were among those who took part in nationwide marches last week to demand safer working conditions and help from the police and the government.

During that march, Federation of Unions of SA general secretary Dennis George said that more than 150 cash-in-transit heists had occurred since the beginning of 2018.

The SA Banking Risk Council also told MPs earlier in June that five guards, two civilians and eight perpetrators had been killed, while 62 guards have been injured in heists this year so far.

However, on Monday the police were tightlipped.

"At this stage I can confirm that there was a [cash-in-transit heist], but we are still gathering more information," Colonel Brenda Muridili told News24 earlier.

Meanwhile, at the scene, forensic investigators dressed in protective gear and booties picked up clues surrounding the cash-in-transit vehicle with its yawning hole on the side.

G4S staffers stood near the police cordon tape but they would not speak to the media.

Women in gowns also gathered nearby. They said the sound of gunfire drew them out of their homes.

At one point, police had to chase away children and adults, who had gathered closer in the hope that some soggy notes lying in the road would blow towards them in the wind.

There were more than 50 plastic markers to indicate where shell casings had fallen and further down the road, inside a chalk triangle, lay a single glove, which forensics staff also noted, photographed and bagged.

A man, whose head was bandaged, appeared shocked as he sat in a bakkie with police. It was not immediately clear who he was because G4S said none of their staff members had been injured.

Trucks branded with the logos of Spar and a company based in Stanger, KwaZulu-Natal, had stopped near the cash-in-transit van, and the window of a horse association's bakkie had also been shattered. An abandoned silver BMW was also found at the scene.

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