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Pretoria - Chaos erupted in Villieria as shots were fired left, right and centre after two robbers travelling in a car they had stolen crashed into a lamp-post in a high-speed chase on Wednesday.
“The two jumped out of the wreckage and tried to make a run for it. Police officers chased after them and several shots were exchanged,” a witness said.
According to the witness, who preferred to remain anonymous, the men had just stolen a car from an elderly couple’s home in Fontana Street.
“I’m not sure when or how the police started chasing them. They took the corner at Soutpansberg Road too fast and crashed into the street pole. The car was filled with items taken from the house,” she said.
The men were quickly apprehended. The witness said the pair were “roughed up” by officers at the scene.
“Everyone was taking photos and video footage with their cellphones and the officers threatened to confiscate our cellphones if we did not stop,” she said.
She said she assumed the police were afraid of being accused of brutality.
She was referring to the incident last month in which Daveyton officers dragged a Mozambican taxi driver, Mido Macia, behind a police van. Madia was found dead, in a pool of blood, in a police cell hours later.
Police spokeswoman Warrant Officer Marinda Swanepoel denied that shots had been fired in Villieria.
She said the two men attempted to break into a house in Eastlynne and, in fleeing the scene, crashed in Soutpansberg Road.
Asked about claims that the car was loaded with stolen goods, Swanepoel said that the matter was being investigated.
“The investigation is ongoing and paperwork is being completed. No charges have been opened yet, but they will most probably be charged with attempted housebreaking,” she said.
She said she did not want to comment on the allegations of shots being fired before the paperwork was complete.
The witness said police officers collected cartridges on the road after the shooting.
Independent Police Investigative Directorate (Ipid) spokesman Moses Dlamini was asked if he was aware of any rulings that members of the public were not allowed to take photographs of accident scenes.
He referred the Pretoria News to Mthunzi Mhaga, spokesman for the Department of Justice and Constitutional Development.
Mhaga indicated that he was not aware of any ruling preventing any member of the public from taking video footage or photographs of police officers executing their duties.