Johannesburg - The nine men travelling in a Toyota Avanza and a minibus taxi on Tuesday were believed to be on their way to an early morning job.
They were about to cross the intersections of Forbes, Heald and Sanders streets in Meadowlands, on their way to the Dobsonville Mall, when the Hawks, the flying squad and the intelligence unit pounced, trapping the men between houses and closing off the intersection.
Two of the men fled, but the police arrested seven others.
The commotion brought people out of their houses, and the entire street was soon swarming with residents looking at the seven men lying on their tummies in the scorching heat, hands cuffed behind them.
When police officers searched the suspects’ car, they uncovered four firearms, one of which had allegedly been taken from a security guard during a robbery at the Dobsonville Mall.
Police spokesman Colonel Katlego Mogale said two of the men had just been released from prison and the others had been positively linked to two robberies at the Dobsonville Mall.
The men were separated and removed from the scene.
“They will be kept at a maximum-security facility because they have been linked to other robberies,” Mogale said.
She said they would appear in court soon on charges of conspiracy to commit armed robbery and possession of unlicensed firearms and ammunition.
Mogale said the seven arrested men had been wearing armbands containing muti.
She said crime intelligence had learnt that they would carry out a robbery at 9am at the Dobsonville Mall.
They were planning to attack a cash van expected either to be collecting or dropping off money at one of the stores.
Mogale said that in July the staff of a liquor outlet at the mall were held up at gunpoint.
Their cellphones were taken, and the robbers escaped with an undisclosed amount of cash and expensive liquor.
In September, robbers hit a Shoprite at the same mall and took with them a gun belonging to a security guard.