National 22.8.2016 04:27 pm

Robbers hold up Benoni shoppers, shoot one

A man ’split second away’ from shooting West Pack robbers.

A man ’split second away’ from shooting West Pack robbers.

A man was injured when he was shot during an armed robbery in Benoni on Sunday.

The owner of the Benoni West Pack Lifestyle branch, King de Castro, said a group of gunmen entered the shop at about 2pm and held up employees and customers, Benoni City Times reports.

“We were all working and walking around tending to customers when people entered the store and demanded people to get down,” said De Castro.

“Some customers were hit and kicked.”

The owner told the City Times there were 10 to 15 customers in the shop at the time of the incident.

He said one of the patrons was told to surrender his cellphone when he was on the floor.

As he did so, he was kicked by the assailants.

“Please take my phone and leave the customers alone,” were the words of one of the employees to the gunmen, according to De Castro.

The man who was shot in the shop allegedly threw one of the gunmen to the floor, as he suspected they were wielding fake guns.

De Castro said another robber saw this and fired at the customer.

READ MORE: Armed robbers target Gateway jewellery store

Constable Zunickha Essakjee, Benoni police spokesperson, said the man was transported to the Life the Glynnwood Hospital.

A person who was in the area at the time of the incident, who did not want to be named, told the City Times he was “very close” to shooting the gunmen.

The man was approached by a man and woman who informed him that a robbery was taking place.

He ran and hid behind a car near the entrance to the store, with his gun drawn.

“I had a pot shot at every one of them (the robbers). I was one split second away from taking somebody’s life,” the man said.

He said he hesitated to shoot, as the robbers were at the entrance of the store.

He was concerned that he would kill an innocent person if he missed his targets.

“I was not prepared to take that risk and be a hero,” he added.

“If I shot I knew there would be a full-on shootout and innocent people would die,” was another reason for his hesitation.

The man said had he known somebody was shot in the shop, he would have shot at the gunmen upon their exit from West Pack Lifestyle.

“One of those guys – or all of them – are so lucky to still be alive.”

De Castro said he chased after the five men (one of whom remained in the getaway car at the time of the incident), but he lost them on High Road, as they were swerving between traffic.

He added the robbers stole cellphones from staff and customers, but were unable to open the cash registers.

A case of business robbery has been opened.

No arrests have been made and police are investigating.

– Caxton News Service.

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