2011-02-23: Robbers killed in dramatic shootout

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2011-02-23: Robbers killed in dramatic shootout

Postby GOSA » Wed, 2011-02-23 11:56

http://www.iol.co.za/news/crime-courts/ ... -1.1030767

Robbers killed in dramatic shootout

February 23 2011 at 08:29am
By Graeme Hosken


A quick-thinking Pretoria teacher’s screams telling her Grade 1 pupils to drop down on to the floor beneath their desks as a gang of nine robbers opened fire at a cash-in-transit van outside the school, probably saved the lives of more than 12 terrified six-year-olds.

In yesterday’s incident, three robbers were killed and two wounded in a dramatic shootout with police who had been lying in wait for the gang. Three of the gangsters were arrested, while one escaped.

In the classroom, Erlani Neville had just instructed her class at Uniefees Laerskool to take out their workbooks.

At that point, seven of the gang, one of them an off-duty policeman, opened fire at a Red Eagle cash-in-transit van near the Rooiwal Power Station north of Pretoria.

One of the bullets narrowly missed several pupils. It struck the classroom’s glass door before hitting a window less than a metre from where the children were sitting at their desks.

As shots rang out, Neville screamed at her pupils to get beneath their desks, hold on to each other and keep quiet.

Unknown to the children a squad of the SAPS Special Task Force had formed a barrier between them and the gunmen to protect them and prevent the gangsters entering the school grounds.

The policemen, with dozens of heavily armed officers from the Hawks specialised tactical operations management section, the national intervention unit and the air wing, had laid a carefully planned trap to catch the gang.

The police, who took up strategic positions on the Old Warmbaths Road and the Soshanguve-Rooiwal Road, are believed to have rehearsed the arrests for a month after they received information about the planned heist.

Among the gang members carrying out the attack were at least two policemen, one of whom had been arrested in connection with a similar attempted cash-in-transit heist near Brits in 2009.

The policeman, a constable from the Railway Police Unit in Ga-Rankuwa, was apparently arrested a month ago after being found to be in illegal possession of an R5 semi-automatic assault rifle.

As the gunmen, who doused the cash van with petrol, opened fire at it, the guard driving the vehicle forced his way past the attackers and drove off along the Old Warmbaths Road.

His escape, according to the police’s plan, was aimed at drawing the gunmen away from the school and towards officers waiting in strategic positions before, after and on the Soshanguve-Rooiwal Road bridge.

As the gunmen chased after the van in their bakkie, police, from their positions, opened fire, killing three of the gang, one of them thought to be a Soshanguve detective, and wounded two others. A fifth man, who was not wounded, was arrested.

Officers hiding near the Rooiwal Power Station entrance arrested two more men, one of them the railway policeman, who were sitting in a VW Polo and a Toyota Venture, waiting for their accomplices.

The vehicles were to have been used as getaway cars.

The driver of the second getaway car is believed to be the gang’s kingpin and was wanted by police for his alleged involvement in ATM bombings in Gauteng.

A ninth man, believed to have been the “spotter”, escaped on foot.

Red Eagle owner Hennie Grobler confirmed the company had worked with police to catch the gang.

He said the trap had begun at the school and was aimed at drawing the gunmen towards the bridge where the police were waiting.

“These guys were merciless. They were planning on burning my staff to death. This was not a speletjie (game),” he said.

Describing the shooting, Neville said she and her class heard a loud bang and then a series of shots.

“When it happened I screamed at the kids to lie on the floor. They were so good. They didn’t make a sound. We just lay there until everything was over,” she said.

Neville said it was only after the shooting stopped that she saw the bullet holes and realised how close the children had been to being hit.

“I am grateful for the police because if they had not been here it could have been worse,” she said.

Netcare 911 had airlifted a critically wounded suspect and taken another, who was seriously wounded, to Steve Biko Academic Hospital, said Jeff Wicks, spokesman for the service.

As crime scene investigators cordoned off the scene and photographed the bodies sprawled on and around the bakkie, police spokesman Colonel Vish Naidoo said he could not comment on what had happened.

“It forms a critical part of the investigation. What I can say is that three suspects were killed and five arrested, including a railway police unit member.

“Two of those arrested were shot.” - Pretoria News
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Postby GOSA » Wed, 2011-02-23 11:57

Bravo to the police for catching up with this lot, but they should never have been placed in this position in the first place.
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