Residents of Parlock and workers look on as police scour the area for a suspect who escaped yesterday afternoon while paramedics attend to the wounded after a shootout between heist suspects and police. PICTURE: Gcina Ndwalane
Durban - A group of hungry factory workers in Parlock, north of Durban, were looking for a bite to eat when they found themselves at the centre of a dramatic shootout between police and a gang of armed robbers who had just stolen thousands of rand on Monday morning.

Six suspects were killed in the protracted gun battle, which saw police chase the gang from the scene of a cash-in-transit heist at Value Centre in Springfield to Parlock.

Two civilians were caught in the crossfire but Rescue Care’s Garrith Jamieson said paramedics treated them at the scene and by Monday afternoon they were in a stable condition.

Two more civilians were also treated for lacerations and other injuries they had sustained while trying to run from the gunfire.

The workers - who asked not to be identified - were taking a tea break when they heard the wail of police sirens.

“It was teatime and we had come out to buy some food when we heard the police heading our way,” one of the workers told The Mercury.

“We were watching for the police and then we saw a Mercedes.

“The guys in the Mercedes started shooting at the cops and then they (the suspects) started shooting at us,” he said.

The workers tried to duck for cover but police swooped on them, thinking they might be suspects. When the police realised they were just bystanders they let the men go and they ran off.

They said the gunfire had continued to echo through the area for several minutes afterwards.

Police spokesperson Captain Nqobile Gwala said the drama unfolded when armed gunmen ambushed a G4S security guard at Value Centre and stole a cash box.

Police responded and two suspects, who had opened fire on police, were shot at the scene in Springfield. One died there and the other later at Addington Hospital.

Two more suspects were arrested in Springfield and five escaped in a silver Mercedes-Benz, which was thought to have been stolen.

Police chased the Mercedes- Benz to Parlock, where another exchange of gunfire left four suspects dead.

Video footage from that scene showed bystanders running in terror and hiding as heavily armed police came running past them, shooting at suspects and telling bystanders to “get down”.

Bloodbath

Gruesome photographs from that scene showed one suspect slumped over the front seats of the bullet-riddled vehicle and another lying across the back seat.

On Monday afternoon scores of local residents were out in the streets watching as a police helicopter circled Parlock in pursuit of one suspect who managed to get away.

On the ground, officers from the metro police dog unit and SAPS K9 units searched dense thicket for the man.

Officers from the Directorate of Priority Crime Investigations (the Hawks) were also at the scene.

The suspect had still not been located by late Monday afternoon.

Gwala said six firearms were recovered from both crime scenes and charges of possession of suspected stolen property - in respect of the Mercedes Benz - possession of unlicensed firearms, attempted murder and armed armed robbery were being investigated.

Inquest dockets have also been opened.

The Mercury