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Durban - Three alleged hijackers have been shot dead during shoot-outs with police in two separate incidents in Durban and Pietermaritzburg, KwaZulu-Natal police said on Sunday.  

In the first incident, a 27-year-old man was driving a white Toyota Quantum minibus at Inanda Newtown C at about 11:30am on Saturday when he was hijacked by five armed men, Captain Nqobile Gwala said.

South African Police Service (SAPS) officers of the Inanda policing cluster responded to the incident, and the alleged hijackers drove off towards L section, KwaMashu. The suspects started to fire shots at the SAPS members and the officers returned fire.

During the exchange of gunfire, two men, aged 20 and 25, were fatally wounded. Three other suspects managed to flee the scene on foot and were still being sought by police. The hijack victim was also wounded and was taken to hospital for medical attention.

A 9mm pistol with ammunition was recovered from the dead suspects. Charges of carjacking, attempted murder, possession of an unlicensed firearm, and an inquest case were being investigated, Gwala said.

In an unrelated incident on Friday night, Pietermaritzburg SAPS members spotted a silver VW Golf which had been reported hijacked earlier. The car was travelling on the N3 southbound and police pursued the vehicle.

Police officers from the Pietermaritzburg highway patrol and the K9 unit also assisted and managed to intercept the hijacked car. Two suspects alighted and fired shots at the police officers, who returned fire and fatally wounded one suspect.

Another suspect, 35, was arrested and found in possession of an unlicensed firearm. It was alleged the victim was driving his car in the CBD when he was approached by the suspects who robbed him of his vehicle and stabbed his friend in the shoulder.

The friend was taken to hospital for medical attention. The arrested suspect would appear in the Pietermaritzburg Magistrate's Court soon, Gwala said.

KwaZulu-Natal acting police commissioner Maj-Gen Bheki Langa praised the officers for their quick reaction in responding to the crime scenes.

“I am glad that no injuries were sustained by police officers. We want to reiterate that police officers will always defend themselves when attacked by ruthless criminals,” he said.

African News Agency (ANA)