Two Kroonstad business people were caught in a hail of gunfire after being robbed of containers containing meat and vegetables, Free State police said.
Captain Stephen Thakeng said the robbers struck at 17:45 near the Serve Well market in Kroonstad, attacking Xiu Hua Huang, 39, and his wife Me Xue Yau Huang on Saturday.
The robbers thought the pot and container the couple was carrying contained the day's takings for the shop.
When they opened them they found food instead.
But in the course of pulling off the robbery, several shots were fired at the couple's vehicle.
Xiu fired back at the robbers as they drove away in their getaway car, a Hyundai Getz that had no licence plates.
Detectives found the Hyundai Getz, with stickers pasted over the bullet marks, on August 1.
Three people were arrested, and police also discovered a haul of arms and communication equipment.
This included two unlicensed firearms, unlicensed ammunition, three hand radio chargers, one hand radio believed to have been stolen form the Moqhaka Taxi Association's security guards, pepper spray, and two other vehicles licensed in Lesotho.
However, the alleged robbers did not simply accept their fate.
One allegedly offered the arresting officers R20 000, so they also face bribery charges.
The three - Sechaba Maloka, 34, Moeketsi Talanyane, 43, and Tshepo Matlere, 36 - appeared in the Kroonstad Magistrate's Court on Monday.
The case was postponed to August 12 for a bail application while police try and track a fourth suspect known as "Docky".
Anyone who knows where Docky is can contact Detective Sergeant William Belane of Kroonstad Detective services on 073 590 5373.
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