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05 July 2011 at 09:03 - Posted by Anonymous

Five robbers killed as cops foil farm attack


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A farmer and five of his workers escaped a deadly farm attack on Sunday night after being warned by the police and a security company that they were the targets of a gang of murderous robbers.

Craig Marwick was told to leave his farm in the Eston area, near Pietermaritzburg, on Sunday.

The police planned to lie in wait for the gang.

"Police and men from Magma Security told us that they had received information just after 7pm that a robbery was planned.

"They told us to leave the farm and go to nearby relatives," said Marwick.

Marwick said his family does not live on the farm, only he and his workers.

Members of the police's National Intervention Unit waited for the gang on the farm. The robbers were believed to part of a gang that has been terrorising the area.

The gang arrived at the farm at around 10pm on Sunday and tried to get onto the premises by forcing the farm gate.

National police spokesman Colonel Vish Naidoo said police confronted the group and called on them to surrender. The men refused.

"A shoot-out ensued which resulted in five [men] being shot dead and two escaping. One of the two [men] was later arrested," he said.

Police recovered seven firearms from the dead men, one of which was a police-issue pistol.

"The firearms will be sent for ballistics testing to establish whether they were used to commit other crimes," said Naidoo.

Naidoo said the 23-member gang of which the men killed on Sunday night are believed to have been members, has been linked to 25 murders, attempted murders, armed robbery and car hijacking in the area.

Of the 23, 12 were arrested last week in Mariannhill for murder, attempted murder and armed robbery.

They were also linked to the killing of a businessman in Hammersdale two weeks ago.

In October, 12 people were killed in their homes in Mariannhill and Shongweni in three days.

Naidoo could not confirm that the gang was linked to these attacks.

National police commissioner Bheki Cele said he was "elated" that his officers had emerged from the ambush on Sunday unscathed.

"These [men] chose to open fire on police officers rather than surrender. Five of the gang of thugs were fatally wounded. I am elated that my officers emerged unscathed," said Cele.

"I should imagine that this incident will serve as a further reminder that police officers will not take kindly to being shot at."

Cele said the officers' actions proved that the police were prepared to protect South Africans.

Marwick said he could not imagine what would have happened if the police had not been alert.

"As a family, we are grateful that we are alive," he said.

"Had the police and private security people not acted the way they did, there would have been another farm murder in the province. The incident indicates that farmers need to be protected . but also that they need to beef up their own security," he said.

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