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16 September 2011 at 10:00 - Posted by Anonymous

Armed gang terror at mall


It was high drama at noon on Thursday when five robbers entered a Pretoria shopping mall and disarmed four policemen, took cash and fled with the police officers’ firearms while shoppers and bystanders watched.

Three of the robbers were eventually arrested after a chase by the police.

The commotion started when the five armed men boldly walked into the Nike Factory Store at the Atterbury Value Mart just before noon and ordered staff into a storeroom where they locked them up.

“Two policemen walked into the shop and right into the robbery and were disarmed. (The gang took) three firearms and bundled officers into the storeroom with the staff,” police spokesman Lieutenant-Colonel Tshisikhawe Ndou said.

As the robbers ransacked the business, two Brooklyn detectives, on a separate investigation, walked in and were robbed of a pistol and were also locked up. The robbers then fled, taking money and personal belongings.

“But the policemen had their radios on and called for back-up, so the police followed them as they drove in the direction of Menlyn Centre,” Ndou said.

The vehicle, with police cars in hot pursuit, stopped at a traffic light near one of the centre’s entrances and the occupants fled.

“The driver was arrested behind the wheel, another not too far from the vehicle and another a distance away,” Ndou said, adding that the other two had evaded the police and escaped with the money. After the third suspect was arrested further away from the scene the police, with sniffer dogs, went into the bush he had come out from, to look for the other two suspects and guns.

Ndou said: “It is the responsibility of the police to investigate and comb the entire area for evidence, clues, which is why we reinforced the area with more staff and dogs.”

Nothing was found.

Police roadblocks were set up and the shopping centre was temporarily shut as police swarmed in in search of the escaped suspects.

Robyn Wilson, who works in one of the shops, said: “We were locked in our shops. Police with rifles walked up and down and for a while it was very scary.”

Outside in the car park car guards and car washers said it had been “unreal” as police cars drove in and armed policemen ran all over the place.

“We were going about our normal duties when two helicopters started hovering above, and the next thing we knew there were policemen everywhere. We didn’t know what was happening, or even if we were in any kind of danger,” said a car washer, who declined to give her name. Three hours after the drama police were still scrutinising the vehicle, which had two different licence plates, looking for fingerprints and examining two big empty bags found inside the car.

By NTANDO MAKHUBU - Sourced from Pretoria News

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