PICS | Robber shot dead, accomplices flee empty-handed after foiled Eastern Cape store robbery

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Jet clothing store in Qonce came under attack on Thursday morning.
Jet clothing store in Qonce came under attack on Thursday morning.
Malibongwe Dayimani
  • A suspected robber was shot and killed in Qonce, the Eastern Cape, during a foiled robbery.
  • Staff at a local Jet clothing store, was held hostage during the attack on Thursday. 
  • When the robbers realised there was an armed security guard inside the store, a shootout ensued. 

The plans of a trio of unsuspecting armed robbers were foiled when they hit a Jet clothing store in Qonce, the Eastern Cape, while a cash-in-transit guard was inside the store.

The suspects entered the store on Thursday, but quickly leant they picked the wrong time to hit the store when the armed guard opened fire on them inside the Market Square Jet store on Maclean Street.

One suspected robber died at the scene after sustaining gun wounds during the foiled robbery, while two others fled empty-handed. 

READ | Eastern Cape post offices under siege - R16m taken in 202 armed robberies in 15 months

Police cordoned off the area, with local businesses, including the busy Market and Bridge streets taxi ranks, losing out on about four trading hours.

Police spokesperson Brigadier Thembinkosi Kinana said the store came under attack at around 10:30am. 

The robbers terrorised staff members inside the store, forcing them into an office and holding them hostage.

armed robbery
Shocked shoppers watch on as police and crime scene experts do their work following a Jet store robbery on Thursday.

Kinana added the robbers were unaware another staff member was in another office. 

She raised the alarm before being caught and moved to the office to join the other hostages, he said. 

READ | Heavily armed gang ambushes cash van on Eastern Cape highway

An armed guard, who was inside the store, saw the incident and responded by firing shots while waiting for backup.

armed robbery
Police said the unidentified suspected robber was in his 30s.

An exchange of gunfire ensued in which one robber was shot, said Kinana.

The wounded robber managed to exit the building but fell in front of a crowd at the Bridge Street taxi rank's loading platform. 

armed robbery
A suspected robber died in a foiled Jet store robbery on Thursday.

A search for his accomplices had been launched, said Kinana, adding a case of business robbery was being investigated. 

Witnesses told News24 terrified customers ran out of the store in different directions during the shootout. 

Street hawker Sindiswa Zibi, 41, who has been selling hats and hoodies from a gazebo outside the store, said she crawled under her stand and fled when she noticed shoppers fleeing.

READ | 'I will die fighting alongside you' - pensioner, 90, domestic worker fight off intruder

She added moments later, two young men, she suspected were the robbers, exited the store.

"We were so scared. The incident has also negatively affected us as street vendors because the police closed the street minutes after the incident. We could not trade during that period," said Zibi. 

The robber's body lay on the pavement for several hours, covered with a white sheet while traumatised onlookers watched on behind police tape.  

Asked for comment, the Foschini Group Limited, which owns Jet stores countrywide, said it would issue a statement in due time.

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