October 13 - KwaZulu-Natal South African Police Service (SAPS) commissioner Lt-Gen Khombinkosi Jula has congratulated police officers in Phoenix in Durban who arrested five men as they fled the scene of an 'armed' robbery at a business premises. Photo: SAPS

DURBAN - KwaZulu-Natal South African Police Service (SAPS) commissioner Lt-Gen Khombinkosi Jula has commended police officers in Phoenix in Durban for arresting five men who were involved in an armed robbery at a business premises.

“Our reaction times to these crimes is very important and we appreciate the fact that most victims of crime contact police immediately, which enables us to close off escape routes swiftly. We need to send a clear message to criminals that citizens will not take these crimes lying down and are working with police to bring them down," he said.

Five suspects, between the ages of 17 and 24, were arrested on October 10 following a business robbery that took place at a business premises in Phoenix, provincial police spokesperson Brigadier Jay Naicker said.

It was alleged that employees were at a supermarket in Phoenix when five men entered the premises at about 12.20pm.

"At gunpoint, the suspects demanded cash and cigarettes from employees. They robbed employees of an undisclosed amount of cash, cellphones, cigarettes, airtime vouchers, as well as an airtime machine. One of the employees was assaulted by the suspects with the butt of a firearm. Following the robbery, the suspects fled the scene in their getaway vehicle."

Police officers from Phoenix immediately responded when they received a report of the robbery and an operation was conducted. Other law enforcement agencies joined in the operation and the getaway vehicle was spotted travelling towards Inanda.

"The vehicle was intercepted and five suspects were placed under arrest. Police seized two toy guns, gloves, an okapi knife, as well as the stolen property that were found in the possession of the suspects."

Investigations revealed that the vehicle used by the suspects was stolen at Inanda earlier this month. The arrested suspects were due to appear in the Verulam Magistrates' Court on Monday on charges of robbery and possession of suspected stolen property, Naicker said.

African News Agency