Cape Town - Police shot dead one suspect and arrested seven others after a robbery at an SA Social Security Agency (Sassa) in a Shoprite store in Bishop Lavis and a high-speed chase through three suburbs.
The armed robbery occurred at a shopping centre in Lavis Drive on Sunday morning.
A gang of robbers is alleged to have held up the Sassa pay point at the store before fleeing in a maroon bakkie. Bishop Lavis police were alerted and were soon on the scene.
A chase ensued through Ravensmead, Parow and Goodwood.
Shots were exchanged between the alleged robbers and police during the chase, resulting in the suspects abandoning the vehicle and running into the industrial area on Jan van Riebeek Drive in Parow.
One suspect was found dead on the back of the bakkie. Police rounded up seven more suspects. Four had been wounded and were taken to hospital where they were treated under police guard.
An undisclosed amount of cash, believed to have been taken from the pay point, along with five firearms were recovered.
Community Safety MEC Dan Plato said: “This is not the first time that a Sassa payout point has been attacked by criminals, which indicates that criminals have clearly identified the payout points as easy targets.”
He called on Sassa to work with the police to assess where security was an issue and ensure the safety of those collecting payouts.
“Our communities’ most vulnerable are those lining up to receive their monthly payouts, and when a payout point is shut down due to a shooting those (who) are in most desperate need of the funds are left without food… until (it) is reopened.”
Plato urged Sassa to work with the police to assess security risks and implement a strategy to ensure the safety of those collecting payouts.
He said police officers armed only with batons were defenceless against the group of heavily armed robbers who attacked the Sassa pay-point.
On the Traffic Fines, Cameras & Updates in Western Cape Facebook page, bystanders spoke about the incident.
A woman who had been at the scene of the robbery said that while some were traumatised others looted the shop, leaving with nappies and portable stoves.
A man said he had seen the suspects abandoning their vehicle and making off into the industrial area.
Graham Lindhorst, chairman of the Bishop Lavis Community Policing Forum, said an urgent meeting had been called with the management of the centre regarding security plans to prevent further incidents.
There had been a similar incident at the shopping centre about a month ago, Lindhorst said.
Police spokeswoman Lorencial Johnson said cases of armed robbery, attempted murder, malicious damage to property and possession of illegal firearms and ammunition had been opened for investigation.
“The arrested suspects are due to appear in court once they have been discharged from hospital. Anyone with information regarding this incident is requested to contact Crime Stop on 08600 10111.”