Deadly end to KZN's most wanted ATM robbers
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Durban - KwaZulu-Natal’s most wanted ATM robbers have been shot dead by police.
It all unfolded on Saturday night on the R617 near Howick when the police, acting on a tip-off, noticed two vehicles they suspected were on their way to carry out an ATM robbery.
They tried to stop the vehicles, but were shot at.
“The suspects ignored all the police warning signs to stop, and opened fire on the police which resulted in a shoot-out and a chase,” said Hawks spokesman Brigadier Hangwani Mulaudzi.
The operation was led by the Hawks and supported by various other units including the elite Special Task Force, crime intelligence and the Durban K-9 unit .
Eight members of the gang were killed. A ninth suspect was wounded and taken to hospital.
Mulaudzi said police found three AK47 assault rifles, one R-5 rifle and two 9mm pistols inside the vehicles. They also recovered a bag primed with commercial explosives.
A background check on the men revealed that they were among KZN’s most wanted suspects. They were linked to a series of robberies as well as the murder of a policewoman.
Mulaudzi said investigators were still in the process of piecing together detailed profiles on the robbers in an effort to see how many other crimes they were linked to.
“Investigations are underway to profile all the suspects, while all the firearms recovered have been taken for ballistics testing,” Mulaudzi said.
Last week, the Hawks were involved in another shoot-out which resulted in five suspects being shot dead.
That incident happened on the N2 freeway between Port Shepstone and Shelly Beach.
This gang is believed to have been behind a spate of robberies at Boxer stores in KZN.
Mxolisi Kaunda, the MEC for Transport, Community Safety and Liaison, said: “Criminals should be aware that police have been placed on high alert to deal with such threats. Those who fire at the police officers should expect police to defend life, limb and property without hesitation.”
Kaunda applauded the police for work well done.
Last week, he warned criminals to stop shooting at the police.
“Police have a constitutional obligation to protect, defend and secure the lives of law-abiding citizens,” he said.
Meanwhile members of the Hawks, assisted by crime intelligence, the tactical response team and public order policing unit officers have arrested six men in connection with the murder of a police officer.
Two off-duty policemen stationed at Msinsini police station were accosted by intruders and held at gunpoint at their home in the Makhoso area in Mthwalume on Wednesday night, Captain Simphiwe Mhlongo said.
The men robbed them of their service pistols and six cellphones.
In the process, they shot dead Constable Siyabonga Mbele, 28.
They fled in his vehicle. The vehicle was recovered in uMlazi the next day.
During the arrest of the suspects, the two police service pistols taken during the robbery were recovered, as well as an unlicensed 9mm pistol suspected to have been used in the commission of the crime.
The recovered firearms would be sent for ballistic testing.
The six arrested suspects, aged between 18 and 22, would be charged with murder, attempted murder, armed robbery and theft of a motor vehicle.
They were expected to appear in the Hibberdene Magistrate’s Court today, Mhlongo said.