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[This is from earlier this year. Jan]
Ten alleged robbers were arrested and eight others killed in bloody exchanges of fire with law enforcement that played out south of Johannesburg on Monday.
Investigations are underway into a dramatic shootout between police and alleged robbers in Rosettenville on Monday that has left at least nine people dead and several others injured.
Police acting on intelligence zoned in on a house in the area that was allegedly being used by the robbers as a safe house from which they were planning a cash-in-transit heist.
Gun fire erupted from the house, targeting a SAPS helicopter circling overhead. Officers on board returned fire before retreating and flying to Milpark Hospital because the flight engineer had been wounded.
On the ground, a multi-disciplinary team led by crime intelligence moved in on the property and the shooting escalated. A leaked report of the incident describes the incident as a “war zone”.
According to the report that Daily Maverick has seen, it is alleged that the suspects gathered at the safe house to finalise their plan to commit a cash-in-transit robbery in the Johannesburg area. This information was given to an operational team who proceeded to the alleged safe house.
Three of the alleged robbers were killed by police as they attempted to flee the house in a BMW, while three others were killed while trying to escape over the walls of neighbouring properties. Others were arrested as they attempted to hijack another vehicle in the area but not before they wounded two police officers and one JMPD officer.
The gang, according to National Police Minister Bheki Cele (who arrived on the scene shortly after the shootout), comprised about 25 members made up of South Africans, Zimbabwean nationals and at least one man from Botswana. Cele described the gang as “heartless people, who are prepared to kill.”
It is believed that among those arrested on Monday is an ex-soldier and two police officers — one from the flying squad and one from the National Intervention Unit.
Combing the scene after the shootout, police recovered nine rifles including AK47s and R4s, over 300 rounds of ammunition, six hijacked luxury vehicles including a BMW, an Audi, a Lexus, a Ford Ranger, a Range Rover and a Mercedez Benz, several other vehicles that would have been used in the heist, explosives, gloves, balaclavas and cellphones.
The incident report puts the number of suspected robber arrests at 10 — two of whom were wounded and are currently under police guard in hospital — eight dead and several others still at large.
According to a law enforcement official who was part of the operation but can’t be named as he is not authorised to speak to the media, “everything lasted five to 8 minutes”.
When Daily Maverick visited the scene forensics experts and members of other units conducted their investigations.
Buildings and walls, like those of Saint Martins school which face the alleged safe house, were pockmarked with bullet holes. Inside the yard of the house, several of the arrested men were made to sit against a wall while they were photographed by forensics experts.
At a separate scene further down the road, three forensics officers stood over the body of a deceased robber. Nearby, two lifeless bodies lay in a bullet-riddled BMW.
Paramedics on the scene had their hands full treating the wounded while those who escaped injury were marched out of the safe house yard and into a waiting police van.
The wounded suspects were transported to Leratong Hospital and the rest to JHB Central Police Station. Investigations are continuing. DM
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