National police commissioner General Khehla Sitole. Picture: Jacques Naude/African News Agency (ANA)

JOHANNESBURG - National police commissioner Lt-Gen Khehla John Sitole on Sunday commended his officers for constantly putting their lives at risk by confronting and arresting criminals across South Africa.

"On the 2nd of September [South African Police Service (SAPS) national commemoration day] we will be commemorating our members who died in the line of duty. In every incident that police are involved in a shoot-out they have to apply their tactical training to subdue and arrest armed suspects," Sitole said in a statement on Sunday.

He applauded ongoing crime intelligence-led operations by various multi-disciplinary task teams which were “squeezing the space of criminals to zero”. His remarks came after police arrested a group of men accused of robbing a courier vehicle in Johannesburg last week.

August 19 - Gauteng police arrested a group of men accused of robbing a courier vehicle in Johannesburg and recovered stolen goods and illegal firearms. Photo: SAPS

SAPS spokeswoman Colonel Brenda Muridili said one suspect was fatally wounded during the shoot-out which ensured between police officers and the robbers.

"In the past week, at The Glen Mall, Moffatview in Johannesburg, one of the [police] teams arrested six suspects, the seventh suspect was fatally wounded during a shootout. This after the group of armed men allegedly robbed a courier van," she said.

"On Friday, 17 August 2018, at about [9.30am] it is alleged that an unknown number of suspects travelling in five vehicles - two sedans and three minibuses - attacked and shot at the driver of a courier vehicle before hijacking it and fleeing the scene. The driver managed to escape unscathed."

The group of men loaded the goods from the courier vehicle into one of the minibuses at an unknown location and thereafter drove toward Forest Hill.

"Crime intelligence-led a [police] team to a guest house where upon arrival a shoot-out ensued between the police and the suspects. Six suspects, aged between 35 and 42, were apprehended and one of them was taken to hospital with a gunshot wound. The seventh suspect was fatally shot while others managed to flee the scene,” she said.

Photo: SAPS

“Of the six arrested suspects, [one] is out on bail for a cash-in-transit robbery case while another was being sought for a 2009 house robbery case. The police are still profiling the rest of the suspects to determine if they are linked to other serious and violent crimes.”

Some of the stolen goods from the courier vehicle were found inside the minibus which the gang had used in the robbery. The minibus was reported to have been hijacked in Cleveland, Johannesburg in April.

“The police also seized a firearm with the serial number erased, a Toyota Quantum suspected to have been stolen, as well as two 'jamming devices'. The firearm will be sent for analysis to establish if it was used in the commission of other crimes,” said Muridili.

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African News Agency (ANA)