Durban - A robber was mistakenly shot in the back by an accomplice during a cash-in-transit robbery in Seaview on Monday, sparking a manhunt for five bandits.
Hawks investigators began their search in the emergency units at hospitals across Durban for the wounded robber.
By time of publication, none of the five had been caught.
The drama took place shortly after 8am when the armed men ambushed a cash van picking up money at a petrol station in Sarnia Road.
Police sources said two of the robbers stormed the van, while three others waited nearby in a white VW Fox car.
A scuffle ensued between the robbers and one of the cash guards, during which one of the robbers panicked and shot his accomplice in the back, a source said.
The suspect then grabbed the cash box and fled to where the getaway car was parked.
“It was like a scene from a movie,” said Tarryn Kinsey, who was walking to the petrol station’s shop at the time.
“I heard what sounded like a gunshot, but I continued walking. Before I knew it, these guys came running past me very fast. They had guns and were carrying what looked like a box. I had no idea what was going on until I arrived at the shop.”
The robbers ran towards Coedmore Road and got into the getaway car. A trail of blood led investigators to the spot.
The empty cash box was found abandoned about 1km from the petrol station, near a cement factory.
Police sources said it had contained more than R60 000.
The cash box, found with the assistance of members of the Queensburgh Crime Watch, was covered in blood, believed to be from one of the robbers.
The security dye that stains the bank notes if the box is irregularly opened was also activated.
The robbers apparently got into a vehicle near the cement factory and escaped.
Investigators cordoned off the scene at the petrol station and where the cash box was abandoned for several hours on Monday while combing the areas for clues.
In addition to tracking the robbers through possible fingerprints, investigators hope to link at least one of them to DNA from the blood left at the scene.
They also retrieved video footage from the petrol station in the hope of identifying the suspects.
Martin Wolff of the Queensburgh Crime Watch said they assisted the police just moments after the incident occurred.
“We heard about it on our radios, which some of the policemen carry, and immediately began driving around looking for the suspects. That was when one of our members came across the cash box.
“This is a good example of how important it is for the community and the police to work together.”
A police officer who could not give his name as he is not authorised to speak to the media, said investigators were hot on the heels of the robbers.
“One of them is seriously injured and will definitely need medical attention. He is going to pitch up at a hospital with a bullet wound and we will get him there.
“It will be a matter of hours before we catch the rest of them.”
KZN police did not respond to several e-mailed queries.