A bloody shootout between police and a gang of alleged cash-in-transit robbers left nine people dead – including two policemen – in northern KwaZulu-Natal on Friday night.
A female police officer was also left injured.
In a statement national commissioner General Khehla John Sitole said the shoot-out occurred during a brazen attack on a CIT vehicle along Hlabisa Road, near Nongoma.
He said members of the South African Police Service’s Special Task Force (STF) and Crime Intelligence (CI) were following up on intelligence that a cash-in-transit (CIT) vehicle was going to be attacked.
“At about 7pm last night a group of heavily armed suspects attacked the security vehicle and used explosives to access the cash along Hlabisa road,” he said.
However, members from the SAPS teams, the STF and CI responded speedily, which resulted in a shootout between them and the robbers.
“Seven suspects, a member from CI and a STF member, were killed during the skirmish. A female member who was shot in the leg is currently receiving medical treatment.”
Sithole said four AK-47 assault rifles as well as a BMW, which was used by the suspects, had been recovered. The same vehicle was reportedly used during other robberies, including one recently at the Nongoma Shell garage.
Sitole expressed condolences to families of the fallen police officers and wished the wounded officer a speedy recovery.
“This is yet another sad day for both the South African Police Service as well as South Africa at large, for every time the life of a police officer is lost in combat, the nation mourns”, he said.
“I offer my highest praise to the all our colleagues that have once again put their lives on the line to bring hardened and selfish criminals to book”, he added.