Policeman and eight ATM bomber suspects killed in gun battle
Jeff Wicks | 2017-06-05 09:12:45.0
Eight suspected ATM bombers and a police officer were gunned down in Hammarsdale.
Image by: THULI DLAMINI
Eight suspected ATM bombers and a policeman were killed in a fierce firefight outside Pietermaritzburg early on Monday.
Sources close to the investigation‚ who could not be named‚ told TimesLIVE that police officers had set a trap for the gang after being tipped off about a planned heist.
The heavily armed gang used a nondescript spaza shop in a rural valley outside Pietermaritzburg as a staging post for an attack on a shopping complex‚ sources said.
But instead of pulling off their heist‚ eight of the suspected ATM bombers were killed in a fierce gun battle with waiting police.
The firefight broke out when police confronted the gang as they descended on a shopping complex in Hammarsdale‚ about 8km from their spaza shop base.
The battle turned into a chase in which three gang members were shot and killed on a road as they fled on foot. The five remaining gang members died after they were pursued to their spaza-shop hideaway.
A 44-year-old policeman‚ a warrant officer‚ died in the exchange of fire.
Police spokesperson Brigadier Jay Naicker said crime scene technicians had spent most of Monday morning combing the shooting scenes for evidence.
“So far‚ during the processing of the scenes‚ police have recovered two rifles‚ four handguns‚ five explosive devices‚ two detonators‚ a gas mask‚ a pair of goggles‚ a pair of gloves and two cars‚” he said.
“The SAPS Provincial Organised Crime Unit is investigating the matter and the Independent Police Investigative Directorate has been informed of the events that unfolded‚” he said.
Acting Provincial Commissioner Major General Bheki Langa expressed his heartfelt condolences to the family of the fallen policeman.
“Our members put their lives on the line on a daily basis to ensure that the people of South Africa are‚ and feel‚ safe‚” he said.
“We commend our members for standing their ground against an armed group who were prepared to kill law enforcement members and had the firepower to do so; while we deeply mourn the loss of the warrant officer‚ we can be glad that more of our members were not killed by these ruthless criminals‚” he said.