Ignatious Sibusiso Mashinini, 42, and Sello Lucky Serumula, 43, were found guilty of robbery, attempted murder, illegal possession of firearms and ammunition, and theft of a motor vehicle.
Mashinini lost his middle finger during a shoot-out with police.
The provincial spokesperson for the Directorate for Priority Crime Investigation (known as Hawks), Lieutenant Colonel Zweli Mohobeleli said the duo rammed into a cash van on September 4, 2020, in Bloemfontein.
“They proceeded to steal firearms belonging to security personnel and used explosives to blast open a safe. Members of the Tactical Response Team (TRT) and Mangaung Metro Task Team reacted at lightning speed and gave chase,” Mohobeleli said.
“They cornered the getaway vehicle following a heavy exchange of fire. This is where Serumula was arrested.”
Officers also recovered cash, firearms which included high-calibre ammunition and explosives.
“It was also discovered that suspects were behind a spate of hijackings and theft of motor vehicles in Gauteng. These vehicles were used during cash-in-transit robberies and later used as getaways or burnt,” Mohobeleli said.
Mashinini who had managed to escape was tracked after he left behind his finger.
“A middle finger which was later confirmed as that of Mashinini was found on the crime scene,” Mohobeleli said.
“In an apparent dash to escape he had left this valuable piece of evidence behind. On November 13, 2020, he was positively linked to the robbery and traced to Benoni where he was hiding.”
The head of the Hawks in the Free State, Major General Mokgadi Bokaba commended all officers involved in ensuring the apprehension of the duo and lauded their bravery.