Picture: SAPS

Port Elizabeth - A security guard accidentally shot himself in the leg at a shopping centre in Gelvandale in Port Elizabeth, and an alleged gangster was arrested nearby while attempting to flee soon afterwards on Friday afternoon, the South African Police Service (SAPS) in the Eastern Cape said.

While security officers were busy servicing an ATM at the Cleary Park shopping centre in Gelvandale, one of them accidentally shot himself in his upper leg, Colonel Priscilla Naidu said in a statement.

It was alleged that at about 2.30pm shoppers "suddenly started frantically running into the [shopping] centre and were screaming".

"The security officers thought that they were being attacked and went down in combat position. As the guard assumed the position, he accidentally shot himself in his right upper leg. He was taken to hospital for treatment. A case of discharging a firearm in a municipal area was opened."

Investigations revealed that there was an alleged shooting between rival gangs at the taxi rank near the centre, causing the commuters and shoppers to rush into the centre in order to escape injury.

At the same time, Port Elizabeth SAPS K9 unit members were patrolling around the shopping centre when they were stopped by a minibus taxi. They were informed that one of the shooters boarded a minibus taxi which was behind them.

With the assistance of SAPS Kabega Park crime prevention members the taxi was pulled over in Norman Middleton Street.

K9 members apprehended the 20-year-old suspect inside the taxi. A .38 revolver was found tucked in his pants. He was detained on a charge of attempted murder and illegal possession of a firearm. He was expected to appear in court on Monday. The firearm would be sent to  ballistics for analysis, Naidu said.

African News Agency/ANA