Botho Molosankwe

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It was supposed to have been the perfect crime.

A gang of robbers attacking five Fidelity guards early in the morning, stealing social grants money meant for the elderly, the sick and children – and then fleeing the pay point before anyone could realise what had happened.

At first, everything went as planned. The robbers attacked the guards, took the money and tried to flee.

But then things went awry, leaving one robber dead with a bag full of money at his side, two shot and wounded and three others arrested after their vehicles’ tyres were shot and deflated as they tried to flee. Another robber was arrested at the pay point.

The events unfolded at Monty Motloung Community Hall in Duduza near Nigel, Ekurhuleni, on Friday. As residents were getting ready to make their way to the hall, a white Quantam minibus taxi with an undisclosed number of men was parked near the hall, waiting.

As per procedure, no one was allowed inside the yard until the guards had securely dropped off the money inside the building.

The guards were oblivious to the gang watching them.

According to police spokesman Warrant Officer Yacoob Rasool, it was not clear how the robbers had managed to get into the yard. However, he said, the armed assailants had attacked the guards, taken all five of their firearms and forced them to open the cash van.

According to a 28-year-old witness who did not want to be identified, he had realised that something was not right as he was walking by.

“I saw a man manhandling a security guard, pushing him and his hand pressed against the guard’s back with a gun. I immediately went to the nearby shops, where I found two police officers buying fatcakes (vetkoek). I told them what I had seen. They suddenly left what they were doing and called for back-up,” the man said.

Meanwhile, back at the hall, the robbers had beaten up the guards, disarmed them and had taken some of the money.

However, one of the security guards, who had been disarmed of his rifle, still had a small firearm on him.

He got into the cash van, which still had money inside, and chased after the robbers. He fired shots, wounding one in the hand and another in the stomach before they crashed into a palisade fence.

When the police arrived at the scene, they saw a man walking casually down the streets, a few metres from the hall, carrying a black schoolbag.

“They stopped him. As they were searching him, he reached for his firearm and the police shot him. He died at the scene,” Rasool said.

The man had been one of the robbers and the schoolbag was filled with money.

When other officers arrived at the hall, they found the beaten security guards, the wounded robbers, a cash van damaged by the palisade blocks and firearms that the robbers had taken from the guards scattered everywhere. The thieves had discarded their firearms and the ones they had taken from the guards just before they fled.

The two injured robbers and another who was found at the hall were all arrested.

While the arrests were taking place, the thieves received a call from their accomplices who had fled the scene earlier in the Quantam, asking them where they were and what was taking them so long.

Rasool said the police had then set a trap and told the arrested men to find out from their accomplices where they were.

The detained men did so and the police got on their trail.

When the robbers saw the officers, they tried to flee but the police shot their vehicle’s tyres and it came to a halt. The men were arrested.

The six suspects have been charged with robbery, attempted murder, possession of stolen property and an unlicensed firearm.