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Johannesburg - Two women were caught in the middle of a brazen cash-in-transit heist on Thursday. One of them hid, the other was terrified that she’d be mistaken for a robber.
About 10 armed robbers opened fire on security guards delivering money to a bank in the Roodepoort CBD. Passers-by scattered and dived for cover, but the robbers fled empty-handed.
Kathy Symonds and Mavis* (who does not want to be identified) were among the people who were caught in the crossfire as the gang attacked the guards during the loading of an ATM.
Mavis was waiting for Symonds at about 4.10pm on Thursday in Van Wyk Street, less than 50m from Capitec Bank. Symonds had gone to refuel her car.
About 10 minutes after Symonds left, Mavis heard what sounded like an explosion.
“At first I thought a car tyre had burst, but a second blast shattered the sound of peak-hour traffic. Then I saw people rushing in my direction. I fled into the nearest shop. The shop owners were lying on the floor,” Mavis said.
She hid in a corner, from where she saw some of the unfolding crime scene.
“People were running away, not caring for shoes that slipped off, or (about) the food they dropped,” she recalled.
Police say the gang attacked the G4S guard who was watching the entrance to the Capitec Bank while another guard loaded the ATM with cash.
“They shot him in the side, they took his firearm,” said police spokesman Constable Vincent Mashiteng.
But he said there were no explosions and no money was taken as the gang fled shortly after shooting the guard, who was taken to hospital.
“We don’t know how many were there, we think there were about 10 armed men with rifles,” Mashiteng said.
From her hiding spot, Mavis said she could see a cash-in-transit vehicle near Capitec and Standard Bank. What was more frightening was that the shop owners seemed to think she was one of the criminals.
“I was shivering with fright, not only due to the circumstances, but because the shop owners were wary of me,” she said.
The police arrived in under 10 minutes, followed by ambulances, a fire engine and security guards.
“With the police present, people slowly emerged from their hiding places and rushed to the cordoned-off crime scene. From what I heard, a guard from the G4S (cash-in-transit) vehicle had been injured.”
The driver of the cash-in-transit van sped off when he heard the gunshots and the guard who was loading the ATM was unharmed.
“He (the guard) is okay. He sustained a gunshot wound to the leg,” said Hannes Venter, sales director for G4S.
Cash-in-transit in spotlight:
* On Thursday: The South African Banking Risk Information Centre, Crime Line and the Hawks release a list of the country’s 24 most-wanted men in connection with cash-in-transit and bank robberies.
* On Thursday: Two men are arrested on suspicion of robbing a cash-in-transit vehicle in Bloemfontein.
* October 26: A security guard is killed and another injured when an armed gang attacks a cash-in-transit van at the Monte Vista shopping centre in Cape Town. A shoot-out ensues and the men flee without taking any money.
* October 22: Two men flee with a box of money after holding up a cash-in-transit van at the Protea Glen shopping centre, Soweto.
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