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Bullets fly as gang hit Oriental City centre

Published Aug 29, 2013

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Johannesburg - Early morning shoppers and security guards at the Oriental City shopping centre in Bruma, Joburg, had to run for cover when a gang randomly fired shots on Wednesday.

The heavily armed gang of 12 men had just pulled off a daring robbery in one of the stores inside the busy shopping centre and were shooting randomly as they made a desperate bid to flee.

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While many who were caught in the crossfire were unhurt, two shopkeepers and three motorists were not so lucky.

The two shopowners, who are also brothers, had to be rushed to hospital after the gang shot them.

As the gang fled the scene in a white Mercedes Vito, they crashed the vehicle into a BMW. They abandoned the Vito and hijacked two cars - a Toyota Avanza and a Peugeot.

Police spokesman Thabo Malatji said the gang fled with an undisclosed amount of cash.

At noon - three hours after the gang pulled off their daring robbery - Nuno Vaz, 32, was still dazed after the robbers crashed into his BMW.

“My body is sore. Thank God I was alone in the car,” Vaz said, his eyes fixed on his car, which was badly damaged on the left-hand side.

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Its back windscreen was shattered.

About 20m from the BMW was the abandoned Vito. Shattered glass and mangled metal and rubber lay strewn on the tar between the two vehicles.

Police officers, including fingerprint experts, paced up and down the road combing the scene for evidence.

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Moments before the gang crashed into his car, Vaz was in good spirits. He had just collected his passport from the Portuguese embassy and was looking forward to travelling to Portugal on Thursday night.

He was also looking forward to sitting for an exam at the University of Johannesburg on Thursday.

 

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“I was driving down the road. The next thing, I heard a loud bang.

“My car swerved. I looked up (the road) and saw guys jumping out of the Vito. Then I heard gunshots. I knew there was s**t happening,” Vaz said.

His voice quivering, he continued: “I got out of my car and ran away. A good Samaritan opened his car door and said I must jump in.

Also still visibly traumatised was Senzo Khubisa, the driver of the Avanza that was hijacked.

He had just driven out of his office to deliver some documents when he was confronted.

“I saw these guys running towards me. Two of them produced guns and ordered me to get out of the car.

“I didn’t know what was happening, but I just told them ‘it’s not me, it’s not me, I haven’t done anything’,” Khubisa said.

“They pulled me out of the car and drove off. I’m still scared. Guns, not just one, but two pointing at you. Everything happened so fast,” he said, before the police whisked him away to take a statement.

Khubisa also saw the funny side during the unfolding drama.

“I saw a security guard taking off his uniform as he ran away. People were screaming and running away.”

A security guard at the main entrance to Oriental City described how he and his colleague darted for cover.

“As they (robbers) drove towards us, they kept shooting in the air. We ran away as fast as we could and hid behind a building,” said the guard, who did not want to be identified.

He added that when he stole a quick backward glance, he had seen one of the robbers opening the boom gate as they sped off.

Malatji said the robbers had opened fire at the police while fleeing the scene, prompting the cops to retaliate.

He added that the two shopowners were shot at after one of them tried to shoot at the robbers.

The thugs were still at large by the time of publication last night, but police were following up some leads, said Malatji.

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The Star

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