2007-12-03 : Diners applaud police after they nab suspect

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2007-12-03 : Diners applaud police after they nab suspect

Postby GOSA » Tue, 2007-12-11 08:10

http://www.iol.co.za/index.php?set_id=1 ... 232C436980

Diners applaud police after they nab suspect
Gill Gifford
December 03 2007 at 09:12AM

When undercover police officers - backed up by special operatives - took down a wanted kingpin during a sting at an Eastgate restaurant, patrons burst into applause and formed a guard of honour as he was escorted out.

The 49-year-old Zimbabwean - wanted for three years in connection with the murder of two police officers, a spate of bank robberies and more recently a string of armed hits on businesses in City Deep - was being held at Johannesburg Central police station and was expected to appear in court on Monday.

Inspector Dennis Adriao said the suspect, whom police had monitored for about a month, immediately tried to bribe his arresting officers by offering them R100 000 cash if they let him go, and might now be facing an added charge of attempted bribery.

Adriao said detectives at the City Deep port-of-entry office, where containers coming into the country are received, first began investigating the suspect when they received information on several armed robberies in and around the area.

'Within seconds he was on the floor, disarmed and cuffed'
Under the leadership of Senior Superintendent Dawid Noah, the detectives managed to foil a robbery planned to take place at the Trade Centre in Benrose, where they identified the Zimbabwean man as the kingpin behind the gang they believed to be responsible.

"They worked nonstop doing surveillance and gathering information, and uncovered links to the murder of two police officers in a cash-in-transit robbery in Carolina, Mpumalanga, earlier this year," Adriao said.

Further investigations uncovered more links to a spate of bank robberies in and around Pretoria last year.

"When the detectives had gathered enough information and evidence to make an arrest, they called the guys from CAT (the Counter Assault Team)," Adriao said.

CAT, a specialised team drawn from the police's protection and security services division - who wear black uniforms, helmets, goggles and bulletproof vests as standard gear - do profiling, guarding of VIPs, the penetration of houses where dangerous criminals are suspected to be hiding and all medium-to-very high risk situations not covered by day-to-day policing.

According to Adriao, the suspect went out for dinner on Friday evening, taking two female companions to a restaurant in the Eastgate shopping centre.

"Undercover agents entered the restaurant and took positions at tables all around him, as if they were normal customers. They believed he was armed and therefore a huge danger to the public. And they also knew he was highly skilled at evading arrest, so they decided to take him down in the restaurant and catch him completely off guard," Adriao said.

And so, while the suspect was in the middle of his meal, the undercover cops pounced. At the same time, CAT operatives stormed in and blocked the entrance to the restaurant.

"Within seconds he was on the floor, disarmed and cuffed. They took an unlicensed firearm off him before he could say a word," Adriao said.

Superintendent Noah then, according to police protocol, addressed surprised patrons in the restaurant, informing them that they were all police officers who had been tracking the suspect.

The response was unexpected as restaurant patrons burst into applause, formed a guard of honour for the police officers and called out their thanks and appreciation.

Detectives then raided the suspect's flat in Hillbrow - an expensively furnished apartment with an upmarket lounge suite and large flat-screen TV - where they found an unlicensed pistol and hundreds of rounds of ammunition, AK-47 bullets among them.

This article was originally published on page 3 of The Star on December 03, 2007
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