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Pretoria - The South African Police Service (SAPS) on Monday launched a massive manhunt for a group of armed men who robbed visiting foreign students at a school in Mamelodi, east of Pretoria.

Gauteng's SAPS spokesperson, Brigadier Mathapelo Peters, said the provincial commissioner, lieutenant general Elias Mawela, had urgently instructed a team of detectives to work round-the-clock mobilising necessary resources in order to apprehend the suspects. 

"Preliminary reports indicate that on Monday, after midday, a group of 19 international students and two professors arrived at Viva Foundation School in Mamelodi East for an outreach programme. It is alleged that a group of not less than five armed suspects accosted the visitors and robbed them of personal belongings including laptops, cellphones, cameras, passports, plane tickets, bags and United States dollars," said Peters.

"An employee at the school was assaulted by the robbers, while a member of the public was struck by a stray bullet as suspects allegedly fired shots randomly when they were [fleeing the scene] in a white Toyota Quantum with no registration numbers."

Police management in Gauteng, led by provincial commissioner Mawela, condemned the incident.

"This blatant disrespect for the law to a point of not caring about the safety of little children of this particular pre-school is a blatant attack on, and undermines the authority of, the state. Police will leave no stone unturned in ensuring that these suspects are found and brought to book," said Mawela.

SAPS is appealing to anyone with information that could assist in the apprehension of the suspects to contact Mamelodi SAPS or Crime Stop on 08600 10111.

African News Agency (ANA)