2007-11-16 : Brave policeman survives five bullets

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2007-11-16 : Brave policeman survives five bullets

Postby GOSA » Fri, 2007-11-23 06:47

Brave policeman survives five bullets

By Sinegugu Ndlovu and Kamini Padayachee

With little thought for his own safety, an off-duty policeman
single-handedly took on armed robbers who had held up a jewellery
store in the Pavilion shopping centre in Durban on Thursday.

A shootout ensued and Berea policeman Inspector Andre Mostert was shot
five times. But he fired back, and it is believed he wounded two of
the robbers.

The robbery came just a day after the Pavilion announced that a new
security initiative had seen a downturn in crime at the centre.

'It took two minutes but it felt like forever'
Arthur Kaplan Jewellers was robbed of Rolex watches worth R1,5-million
and R46 000 in cash in a morning of drama that saw terrified shoppers
running for cover.

The cash was later recovered by police after the men dropped it while

A shocked Priscilla Bussack, Arthur Kaplan Jewellers' manager, told
how two armed men had entered the shop, with one going to the back.

"He drew a firearm and demanded the money. Another man stood guard
with an AK-47 outside the store," said Bussack, who was forced to open
the watch display.

The men took 27 Rolex watches.

In August last year the store was robbed of almost the same amount.
Bussack said she and her staff had been terrified.

"It took two minutes but it felt like forever. We thought they were
going to shoot us. The man who was taking the Rolexes out was nervous
and panicky. He kept shouting that I shouldn't look at him."

After the gunmen left, Bussack took off her shoes and ran after them,
"shouting to alert security to the robbery".

Mostert chased the men towards Beverley Jewellers. There was a
shootout and Mostert was shot twice in the stomach, twice in the chest
and once in the arm.

A helicopter flew him to St Augustine's Hospital. Netcare 911
spokesperson Chris Botha said Mostert's prognosis was good. "He
underwent lengthy surgery and is currently on a ventilator in the
intensive care unit. A lot of work was done, and it looks as if he is
going to pull through."

Berea police station commissioner Dir John Bohloko said Mostert, a
long-serving detective, was devoted to his job.

Police Superintendent Danelia Veldhuizen said all the men had been
carrying large-calibre weapons, and police believe one or two were
shot as there was a trail of blood leading to the exit they used. A
white VW Polo used by the robbers was found abandoned in Booth Road,
Cato Manor. It had been hijacked on the Berea last Tuesday.

Pavilion manager Preston Gaddy said: "Security will be beefed up;
unfortunately we have 17 entrances, which makes access control difficult."

The robbers had been recorded on CCTV, and this would hopefully assist
police in making arrests.

Mariana Berndt, owner of The Little Italian restaurant near Arthur
Kaplan Jewellers, said her staff were fearful.

She said. "I saw one of the men surveying the floor while two went
into the jewellery store, and I knew a robbery was about to happen. I
phoned security then heard multiple gunshots."

Jody Nair, of the South African National Council of Shopping Centres
in KwaZulu-Natal, said there were gaping holes in security at many
shopping centres in KZN. The main areas of concern were access
control, training for security staff and cash management.

"All shopping centres should have boom gates at all their entrances
and exits. The centre can monitor who is coming in, and boom gates
deter prospective robbers as their escape can be delayed."

Nair added that security staff were not properly trained to spot
suspicious people. "Staff who monitor closed-circuit television
cameras, security guards and even car guards need to be trained to
read body language in order to spot suspicious people."

* This article was originally published on page 1 of The Mercury
on November 16, 2007
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