Cape Town - Armed robbers shot their way out of a Mitchells Plain Town Centre jewellery shop “just like in the movies”, witnesses said on Thursday.
It was the second time this week that Sterns jewellery shop in Eastridge was targeted.
On Monday, Mark van der Brook, 38, a security guard at the centre, was chasing suspects away from Sterns when he was shot dead.
On Thursday, a witness said the robbers walked in “like normal people” and closed the door.
“One of the hawkers saw the man close the door and he immediately told us the place was getting robbed.”
Shaied Davids, a hawker with a stall close to the shop, said one of the suspects had stopped to ask him the price of danya (coriander) on his way towards the jewellery shop.
“Two guys came from my left and two from the right. One locked the door. Then I heard an auntie scream that there’s a robbery.”
He added that he heard several shots fired and that two women were held hostage.
The shop windows were littered with bullet holes.
John Anthony Damons, a resident and witness, said he saw one gunman shoot the windows from inside the shop. “They shot their way out.”
Another witness said the robbery was “just like the movies”.
Affer the drama, yellow police tape cordoned off the scene while officers combed the area.
Police spokesman Captain FC van Wyk said the Mitchells Plain Tactical Response unit had responded to the armed robbery after noon.
When they arrived they found the suspects holding the staff members hostage.
The National Intervention Unit managed to defuse the hostage situation, he added.
“Four suspects aged between 19 and 36 were arrested. A 9mm pistol was recovered.”
The suspects are expected to appear in the Cape Town Magistrate’s Court on charges of armed robbery, attempted murder, and pointing of a firearm.
Riedewaan Jumat, from Community Crime Stop, said the war in the centre would never stop.
“I’ve been working in this community and fighting crime for many years. It’s getting worse. This place is like a beehive for criminals, because all the criminals from Mitchells Plain come to sell their goods and drugs.”
He added that there had been several robberies within the centre since the beginning of the year.
A 45-year-old hawker, who has been selling her wares at the centre for more than 28 years, said everyone felt unsafe.
“I don’t ever feel safe, but I’m forced to work to pay my bond and my son’s varsity fees.”
She was sitting at her stall when she heard several shots fired.
“People say it was the same robbers who came here on Monday because they didn’t get away with any diamonds or money on that day.”
She added that the residents felt they deserved protection because there wasn’t enough policing in the area.
“On Monday they shot Mark the security guard. He was like a hero to everyone, because he was the only one who stood up to the criminals and chased them away.”
Moegamat Saadique Bury said the residents made a citizen’s arrest as one of the suspects tried to get away. “We as the community are fed up.”
Shops closed for the rest of the day.
Meanwhile, in a separate incident, just a block away, the body of a man lay covered on the ground in 4th Avenue.
Van Wyk said a suspect fleeing from a house-breaking was being pursued by a security company when he was shot dead.