WATCH | Melville pharmacy shooting: Female customer assaulted after pepper-spraying armed robber

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  • Gunmen stormed into Mays Chemist in Melville, Johannesburg, on Tuesday.
  • They robbed the pharmacy and exchanged gunfire with a security guard while fleeing the scene.
  • An employee said she had previously been traumatised due to another robbery.

There was drama at Mays Chemist in Melville, Johannesburg, when gunmen pretending to be customers stormed it.

They robbed the pharmacy, beat up a female customer who pepper-sprayed them, and exchanged gunfire with a security guard as they fled.

All this happened in broad daylight on Tuesday.

An employee told News24 she had thought the end was near for her as this was the second time she had experienced a robbery.

It was chaotic for me. It was actually my second armed robbery, and I didn't feel like I was going to be lucky for the second time compared to the previous guys who were more aggressive. When I looked around, I couldn't see anyone here who could save us, [because it's only] the suspects and the never-ending gunshots.

According to her, it all started when one of the robbers wanted to buy eye drops but struggled to make payment with his card. It was at that time she realised they were going to be robbed and that the man was just stalling.

The owner of the pharmacy, Kobus Botma, said the robbers took money from the register, more than nine cellphones, laptops, tablets, and vitamin pills, but not the keys to the safe.

"There were only two customers inside as we had just opened. It was traumatising for my staff as they were pushed around and had knives and guns held to their heads. The suspects demanded the keys to the safe, which we were not in possession of," Botma added.

Bullets struck the sanitiser stand and the pharmacy entrance.
News24 Alfonso Nqunjana, News24
shooting in Johannesburg
Bullets penetrated the wall of Mays Chemist during the shootout.
News24 Alfonso Nqunjana, News24
Bullets hit the wall of Mays Chemist during the shootout.
News24 Alfonso Nqunjana, News24
Bullets hit the pharmacy's advertising sign.
News24 Alfonso Nqunjana, News24

During the robbery, a female customer took out her pepper spray.

"The woman sprayed one or two suspects and they beat her up. She sustained a swollen face and had a gun pointed at her."

He said during the scuffle between the woman and one of the robbers, the latter took off his mask and his face was captured on CCTV.

In the footage, the woman is seen being manhandled and kicked while lying on the floor.

She repeatedly stands up, her face bloodied and one eye swollen, charging at one of robbers, who later points a gun at her before striking her on the head with a phone.

One of the security guards told News24 he had pressed the panic button when he saw the robbers exiting a taxi as he was heading to a coffee shop.

wanted suspect
Surveillance camera footage supplied to News24 shows one of the robbers who was pepper-sprayed by a female customer.
Supplied Supplied

A security guard responded to the robbery and a shootout ensued between him and the robbers.

Botma said the shootout lasted four or five minutes and he believed more than 20 shots were fired.

One employee said the incident felt "like forever".

"I was scared and asking myself if a bullet was going to hit me anytime and if the shooting was ever going to stop… it just felt like it was happening the whole day. Most of us have children, and imagine if we got shot, who is going to look after them?"

A bullet hit the concrete pole where an armed response security guard was seen taking cover.
News24Alfonso Nqunjana, News24
A few bullets also struck signs where an armed response security guard was seen taking cover.
News24Alfonso Nqunjana, News24
A bullet struck a sign where an armed response security guard was seen taking cover.
News24 Alfonso Nqunjana, News24

A passenger in a courier vehicle, which had stopped at the traffic light a few metres behind the security guard, was hit by a stray bullet.

He was rushed to hospital.

Gauteng police spokesperson Colonel Mavela Masondo said the robbers had entered the pharmacy pretending to be customers and pointed guns at the employees, stealing their phones and an undisclosed amount of cash.

"They robbed the employees at gunpoint, taking their cellphones and cash. As the security guard was approaching, the suspects started shooting at him and a shootout ensued.

"The passenger of a truck that was passing by was hit by a stray bullet and was rushed to the nearest hospital for medical treatment," added Masondo.

Police have appealed to anyone with information about the robbers to contact Crime Stop on 08600 1011.

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