File photo: Tracey Adams

Cape Town - An MTN shop assistant and her client were tied up and forced to lie on the floor during an armed robbery at one of the network operator’s stores in Brackenfell on Thursday.

This brings the number of robberies at MTN stores to eight in less than a month and more than 150 cellphones, including smartphones, have been stolen.

Three men entered the MTN store just after it opened. One of them approached the shop assistant and took out a firearm.

A witness who would only speak on condition of anonymity said the men stormed the shop and held the staff at gunpoint.

“We just opened our stores and we saw three guys rushing to the store. One of them took out a gun, while the others disappeared in the back room. One of the staff members said he recognised one of the robbers from a picture sent to the store of the men who were responsible for the spate of robberies ,” the witness said.

“One person whom I think was a customer went in without knowing what was happening and was also affected by the incident.”

Police spokesman FC van Wyk said the men ran off with a number of cellphones.

“One man approached the shop assistant, took out a firearm and showed it to her. The two other men went around the counter to the storeroom. There they found the other shop assistant, who was on the phone with a customer.

“They tied her hands with cable ties and made her lie down on the floor. A client entered the shop and was also taken to the back, tied up and made to lie down on the ground,” Van Wyk said.

“During this time, a deaf lady entered the shop. She was there to clean the store. The suspect chased her out of the shop, but she could not understand him. The shop assistant kept the lady next to her.”

He said the robbers drove away in a gold Opel Astra.

A case of armed robbery was opened, Van Wyk said.

“MTN has been working closely with the Hawks in Gauteng resulting in the arrest of 42 suspects, in addition, 19 arrests have been made in the Western Cape,” MTN spokeswoman Bridget Bhengu said.

Last week, five people were arrested for the spate of robberies in cellular stores around the city. They appeared in Athlone Magistrate’s Court but the charges were dropped.

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Cape Argus