Syndicate hits another Eastern Cape post office - staff locked in toilet, R125k stolen

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A post office branch.
A post office branch.
Gallo Images/Fani Mahuntsi
  • The police have launched a manhunt for three armed robbers who fled with R125 000 during a brazen attack at a post office in Gqeberha.
  • This brings to more than R16m the total amount of cash taken during 203 post office attacks in the province in the past 16 months.
  • The SA Post Office said a syndicate was targeting its Eastern Cape branches.

The Summerstrand Post Office in Gqeberha has become the latest Eastern Cape branch to be robbed - the province has been hit by a series of attacks which have seen more than R16 million stolen in more than 200 heists in the past 16 months. 

Eastern Cape police spokesperson Colonel Priscilla Naidu said three men robbed the Summerstrand branch at about 09:00 on Wednesday. 

Naidu said the robbers herded the staff members into a toilet before fleeing with an undisclosed amount of cash.

A police insider, however, told News24 that the three robbers made off with about R125 000.

The well-planned robbery at Summerstrand was set in motion by a man who entered the premises pretending to seek information about the renewal of a car license disc. 

READ | Door handles, toilet paper - schools looted bare in Gauteng, KZN

Two other gang members joined him shortly after.   

"It is alleged that at about 09:00, an unknown male entered the post office and made enquiries about motor vehicle's license renewal.  Thereafter, another male walked in and pointed a firearm at the cashier. The third suspect then joined them."

Naidu said an undisclosed amount of cash, the cashier's cellphone and vehicle license papers were taken. 

"The staff were left [locked] in the toilet before the suspects fled in a silver Nissan Almera. No one sustained any injuries in the incident," she added. 

Naidu said a case of business robbery was being investigated. 

Eastern Cape police had so far struggled to get to grips with the well-organised syndicate targeting small and rural post office branches in the province.

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

The SA Post Office previously admitted to News24 that it was under siege from a group attacking its branches, especially on state grant payment days. 

Many of the province's 156 post office branches are used as pay points for social grants and for the Expanded Public Works Programme pay. 

The Summerstrand Post Office can pay up to 100 beneficiaries per day, said Post Office Eastern Cape chief Nombulelo Ngubane. 

She said no beneficiaries were at the branch during the incident and that no staff members were physically harmed.

Ngubane added that no shots were fired during the incident.  

ALSO READ | Eastern Cape post offices 'under siege': R14m meant for social grants stolen in heists in 12 months

Ngubane said the Summerstrand Post Office would close for a few days to allow for workers who witnessed the ordeal to receive trauma counselling. 

She added:

We are thankful none of our staff were injured in the incident. We have closed temporarily so that we can offer support to the three staff members and also to regroup. 

News24 reported in July that robbers had taken more than R16 million in 202 robberies at various branches in the province since April 2020. 

READ | Sassa's R350 grant: Unsuccessful applicants lay siege to post offices in Eastern Cape

The figure excluded cash stolen while it was in transit to post offices. 

Police appealed to anyone who can assist the investigation to contact SAPS Humewood on 041 504 5019 or to contact the police's Crime Stop on 08600 10111 or their nearest police station.

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