Wild shooting at bank in Pietermaritzburg

2019-03-05 15:30
A forensics officer walks past one of the bullet casings that littered the parking lot of Absa bank in Chatterton Road after the shootout.

A forensics officer walks past one of the bullet casings that littered the parking lot of Absa bank in Chatterton Road after the shootout.

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Members of the public were lucky to escape unharmed after private security guards and men wielding AK47 assault rifles exchanged more than 10 shots at a banking complex in Chatterton Road on Monday.

Armed men had held up a man who walked out of the Absa branch in broad daylight. The man was carrying a bag of documents, which the assailants presumably mistook to be money.

Witnesses said they had heard as many as 15 shots being fired.

The assailants’ white Mercedes-Benz was hit by bullets and its rear window had been shot out, police said.

One stray bullet went straight through a window at Barloworld’s car dealership — across the road from the banking complex.

Two elderly staff members at the Ford and Mazda dealership required treatment for shock.

However, luckily no one was injured during the drama.

The Witness arrived on scene on Monday afternoon to find police surveying dozens of bullet casings strewn on the ground.

Several shaken eyewitnesses were giving their accounts of what happened to police, who had briefly erected police tape around the entrance of the bank.

Customers were, however, still allowed into the complex and the bank and the buildings were not evacuated.

The visibly traumatised man who was accosted by the gunmen declined to comment, but The Witness understands he had deposited money at another bank before going to the Absa bank.

A forensics officer walks past one of the bullet casings that littered the parking lot of Absa bank in Chatterton Road after the shootout. 

He was then accosted by two men wielding AK47s who had demanded the bag he was carrying, believing there was money inside it.

The men had turned to get into a getaway vehicle when a private security guard began firing shots at them.

A shootout followed before the men got into their car and sped off.

The bag of documents was left behind by the assailants.

One eyewitness who was inside the bank at the time said he thought the bank was being held up after hearing loud gunshots.

“It happened right outside the branch. I must have been just a few metres away from these guys with guns.

“To think they would come and try to do this in a complex with boom gates and security. That’s how brazen they are.”

A woman who was also inside the bank at the time said: “I was standing in line for a query when this happened.

“You would never think something like this would happen in an area like this [where there are] so many businesses and restaurants and so many people to spot [the criminals].

“It is also very hard to get away here because the roads are narrow and there is a roundabout at the bottom of the road. So just imagine.”

Chairperson of the Loop Street CPF, Gerald Harry, said people needed to be vigilant when going to banks.

“They probably targeted this person, so people need to take note when visiting banks.”

Police spokesperson Sergeant Mthokozisi Ngobese said police were searching for three suspects.

Read more on:    pietermaritzburg  |  crime

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