TWO heavily armed gangsters were killed after a robbery at around 1am on Monday, 29 November.
They were killed during a shoot-out with cops at Vahlave Shopping Centre in Rolle outside Thulamahashe, Mpumalanga.
A police chopper was hovering above the village as bomb experts, the flying squad and the Independent Police Investigative Directorate were hunting for the heavily armed gangsters.
A petrol station worker said they were woken up by gunshots from the direction of the shopping centre.
“We heard the gang knocked on the door demanding keys for the tavern and cash,” she said.
A bystander said a gang of over eight thugs hijacked a Hyundai H-1 bakkie.
“The gang hijacked the passing bakkie on the road. They then pulled out its driver and occupants, and ordered them to lie on the ground as they started shooting and blew up the cash safe on the premises, before they looted the cash inside.
“But it was not enough. The gang broke into the tavern at the centre, and forced the driver and occupants to load the stolen beers into the bakkie. But things turned ugly when Mhala police disrupted them. The other ambushed gang members jumped out and started shooting at police. One gang member ripped the keys from the police car’s ignition, as it was left idling. But police hit back. Realising the war was hot, the gang jumped into the Hyundai bakkie and got away. But police gave chase.
“The gang then hijacked a Nissan Micra, which they later set alight. Two suspects were found dead at the road and the other inside the Hyundai bakkie,” said the bystander.
Another witness said other gang members jumped into an Isuzu bakkie and a Toyota Legend 50 bakkie and sped off.
“A group of men who looked suspicious responded swiftly. They parked further from the petrol station and walked to the scene. The suspects noticed the members and fired shots. The police retaliated and a shoot-out ensued, where two suspects were fatally wounded and a police vehicle damaged.
“The other suspects proceeded to bomb the drop safe and took an undisclosed amount of cash and robbed staff of cellphones. They also broke into a bottle store and stole alcohol, as well as hijacked a Hyundai truck and fled in a Toyota double cab bakkie, a white Isuzu double cab bakkie, as well as a cream white VW Polo.
“Police managed to recover the hijacked truck, as well as stolen alcohol. Cases of attempted murder, business robbery as well as contravention of the Explosives Act are being investigated,” said Brigadier Selvy Mohlala.