2009-10-21: Bullets fly in Mall shootout

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2009-10-21: Bullets fly in Mall shootout

Postby GOSA » Mon, 2009-11-16 09:22

http://www.iol.co.za/index.php?set_id=1 ... 298C510038

October 21 2009 at 07:21AM

By Jacques Breytenbach and Graeme Hosken

Five gunmen, armed with an AK-47 rifle and pistols opened fire in the
crowded Kolonnade Shopping Centre yesterday morning after storming a
jewellery store.

The gang had moments before held up three security guards and
assaulted two NWJ staff members, including a pregnant woman.

They then fled the store with bags of jewellery, opening fire on a
Mugg & Bean customer, who had opened fire on them as they tried to escape
through the shopping centre's parking lot.

While customers sought cover as the gunmen and the customer exchanged
fire, the robbers tried to escape in a black Volvo, which, it was later
discovered, had been hijacked in Johannesburg in 2006.

The robbers were forced to abandon their car when the driver crashed
into a Nissan Tiida. While four of the gunmen hijacked a Ford Focus from a
motorist outside the centre, the fifth was arrested by guards as he ran

As the gunmen fled, police from across the city blocked off roads in a
desperate bid to catch them.

The suspects abandoned the Ford in Mayville when police units boxed
them in.

Fleeing on foot along a railway line towards the Mountain View train
station, two of the suspects threw an AK-47 into the garden of Trevor Buys's
house. The men were caught as they tried to escape through thick bushes.

'It is clear they are in control'
The driver, who abandoned the hijacked car on the corner of Booysen
and Bernita streets, and one of his accomplices managed to escape.

Police were still scouring the railway lines hours later as they
searched for the suspects.

Buys said he had been working on his car when he heard a loud thud.

"As I looked up I saw two men running fast past my fence.

"The next minute I could hear sirens and a police helicopter flying
low overheard."

Running out of his garden, Buys flagged down some police officers, who
recovered the AK-47 from one of his flowerbeds.

Mugg & Bean manager Catha Beukes said that when the first shots rang
out and security guards ran past, screaming at them to close their stores,
they had immediately locked their doors.

Clara Williams, who works in a hair salon opposite the NWJ store, said
working in the mall had added a lot of stress to her life.

"Something small, like hearing an object fall, can make you think a
gunfight between police and robbers has broken out somewhere in the mall.

"Everybody is traumatised by the thought of what might happen next,"
Williams said.

Kobus Kruger, Kolonnade's operations manager, said: "With all the
robberies at malls in the past couple of months, Kolonnade has put extra
security measures in place to ensure the safety of its staff and shoppers."

Consumer Goods Council of South Africa spokesman Michael Broughton
said attacks on shopping malls had not decreased despite efforts to combat

"Multiple gangs are targeting malls across the country, using
different modi operandi, making this crime difficult to fight."

He said the council believed the number of attacks was increasing
"because in most robberies, the robbers escape with very little".

"The need for money is making the robbers desperate and forcing them
to step up their operations."

Asked to comment on the 20 apparent mall robberies across the country
over the past weekend, Broughton said he did not have the figures.

A source within the shopping security industry said robbers were going
"mad" with their attacks.

"It is clear they are in control. The police and the various
industries involved in mall security are playing catch-up, with robbers
dictating when, who and how they carry out their attacks."

Police Inspector Ben Strydom said the driver of the Nissan Tiida had
sustained a fractured arm, and cuts and bruises to her face. She was taken
to hospital.

He said police had arrested three suspects and recovered two pistols,
an AK-47 and jewellery.

a.. This article was originally published on page 1 of Pretoria
News on October 21, 2009
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