Durban - Three men were shot dead in a firefight with police who caught them allegedly in the act of stealing a car in Malvern, south of Durban, on Friday night.
Spokesperson Jay Naicker said police went to check on a report that a Toyota Tazz was being stolen on Main Road early on Friday night.
They saw five men in a VW Jetta allegedly trying to steal the hatchback, but they sped off when confronted by police.
As the police gave chase, the gang started shooting at them.
"Police officers returned fire at the men who crashed their getaway vehicle," said Naicker.
Two of the men ran away and the remaining three, who had been shot, died at the scene.
Police found three pistols with their serial numbers filed off, live ammunition and car theft implements.
No police officers were injured in the shoot-out.
Police are searching for the other two suspects as part of their investigation into attempted murder, possession of unlicensed firearms and suspected stolen property.
KwaZulu-Natal Police Commissioner Lieutenant General Mmamonnye Ngobeni applauded the Malvern police.
"I am pleased that our officers escaped unscathed during the exchange of gunfire and I am certain that we will find the men who managed to flee so that they can face the consequences for their actions."