Johannesburg - The M1 highway in Johannesburg was finally cleared after being closed off to traffic between Xavier Street and Booysens Road following a shoot-out between police and cash-in transit robbers on Wednesday night.
During the closure, as police worked tirelessly to comb the scene for evidence, JMPD spokesperson Xolani Fihla urged motorists to use alternative routes to avoid traffic.
However, by 4pm, Fihla confirmed that the road was being reopened to traffic, adding that mop-up operations had concluded after two of the suspected cash-in-transit robbers died during the stand-off with the police.
“Yes. We can confirm that the road has been reopened following its closure due to the shooting incident on Wednesday night,” Fihla added.
It is reported that the robbery took place on Wednesday just after 5pm, when the security guards, who had just picked up money from various outlets and were en route to their base, were attacked, disarmed, and their vehicles bombed.
Three hours later, police attached to the Directorate for Priority Crime Investigation (DPCI) and the Johannesburg Flying Squad responded after mobilising various resources and tracking the suspects on the M1 South just before the Booysens off-ramp at 8.20pm.
A shoot-out resulting in the death of one of the suspects and the arrest of two others, as well as an injury to one of the officers who is currently recovering in the hospital, ensued.
Throughout the day, there was a heavy police presence on the M1 highway in the south of Joburg as members of the police began and finalised their preliminary investigations.
The SAPS confirmed that two suspects had been arrested and one person was killed in the shooting.
On Thursday, acting National Commissioner of the SAPS, Lieutenant-General Tebello Mosikili, commended the Gauteng police for tracing and arresting the suspects within three hours of the commission of the crime.
SAPS spokesperson Brigadier Athlenda Mathe said the heist took place at 5.15pm on Wednesday when armed suspects forced a cash van to stop.
“The suspects got away with an undisclosed amount of money,” Mathe said.
“A shoot-out ensued with the suspects, who were travelling in a Toyota Quantum. One suspect was certified dead at the scene, while two others were apprehended. Three rifles were recovered, and cash and two cellphones have been seized. Two empty cash bags as well as implements used in armed robberies were found in their getaway vehicle,” Mathe said.
Mathe said a search was under way for the suspects who fled. One police officer was shot and is in the hospital.
Mosikili praised the police for remaining on high alert.
“Well done to the team for the swift reaction. We continue to deal decisively with serious and violent crime in various provinces, and we continue to take down syndicates and groups involved in these crimes. Either they surrender, or we will continue to hunt and take them down. A speedy recovery to our member who is in the hospital,” said Mosikili.
According to media reports, there have been more than 200 cash-in-transit heists this year.