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Durban - A gang of armed robbers ambushed two men, killing one, as they returned to work after drawing a large sum of cash from a Durban bank on Thursday.
Shu Perumal, 54, was shot in the head while his colleague, Shaun Hirall, sustained minor injuries.
The pair were ambushed by four men when they arrived at Resmed Healthcare, a pharmaceutical manufacturing company in Reservoir Hills’ Rochdale Drive.
They had been sent by their company to their local bank to withdraw cash.
A source said the suspects were in a white Ford Focus with a Durban number plate, and had followed Perumal and Hirall from the bank.
A senior manager at Resmed Healthcare, who did not want to be named, said the two employees had withdrawn R30 000 to R40 000. This was allegedly taken by the robbers.
Perumal and Hirall were surrounded by three armed robbers on the company’s premises before they could exit their company car.
The source said Perumal had been driving.
“As he was closing the gate they (suspects) entered and went to the driver’s side and others went to the passenger’s side.”
He said the men demanded to know where the money was and Hirall told them it was in the car, before pleading with them not to shoot.
“The doors were still locked and when they couldn’t open it, they shot through the window,” said the source.
“They pulled him (Hirall) out of the car and assaulted him and he rolled over under a truck that had been parked next to their car.”
He said the robber on the driver’s side fired a single shot, killing Perumal instantly. The other robbers fired more shots before running to their getaway vehicle.
The senior manager said a police investigative officer at the scene told them it could be an “inside job” involving bank personnel.
However, the chief executive of the South African Banking Risk Information Centre (SABRIC), Kalyani Pillay, said it was unfortunate that in incidents like this, the perception existed that bank staff were involved, “despite investigations not proving this”.
“Banks take these robberies very seriously and conduct investigations internally as well as provide the SAPS with all the co-operation and assistance required,” she said.
“(We) give our assurance that we will give the police all the assistance that is required.”
Pillay urged bank customers to be observant, and to carry as little cash as possible, saying they should rather use cellphone or internet banking.
They should also alternate the days they go to deposit at the bank and refrain from driving to the bank in company branded vehicles, she said.
“Follow home, or to business, robberies are a problem which the banks and SABRIC have been alerting the public and businesses to.”
Hirall was discharged from hospital on Thursday.
“We couldn’t ask him many questions. He was very emotional but when I went to seen him at the hospital in the afternoon he was not badly injured,” said the source.
When the Daily News arrived at the scene, the victims’ car was still in the parking lot and there was a bullet hole in the driver’s side window.
Tyre skid marks could be seen on the driveway, presumably made by the getaway car.
The robbery and shooting left Resmed Healthcare workers shaken. They were sent home early.
“This crime is very bad. This could have happened to anyone and tomorrow it could be me or you,” said one distraught employee, who was too afraid to give his name. “A man leaves his home, says bye to his wife and kids not knowing that he will not go back home.”
Perumal had worked for the company for about 30 years and was usually tasked with the banking. “He was the trusted guy in the company and part of the family,” the manager said.
Perumal is survived by his wife and two teenage daughters. His funeral was planned for today.
SAPS spokesman, Captain Thulani Zwane, said Greenwood Park police were investigating a case of murder and attempted murder.
No arrest had been made, he said.
Zwane could not say whether the robbers had been tipped off by someone inside the bank.