A shootout between bank robbers and police ensued in Ogies, Mpumalanga, at around 4am on Friday morning after officers responded to information of suspicious men at the bank.
Police spokesperson Brigadier Leonard Hlathi told TimesLive that it was originally believed the robbers were trapped inside the bank and the incident was still in process four hours after it began. However, new information is that the incident did not last long, and the unknown number of suspects escaped the scene in three vehicles.
It was reported that a police officer was shot twice in the upper body during the shootout, which ensued after the suspects opened fire on the police as they approached. The police then shot back at the suspects who were also reportedly believed to have robbed a bank customer and locked him inside his vehicle.
This is the second time in just over a week that a shootout ensued in the quiet town.
The Witbank News reported that suspects were arrested last Thursday before they could rob Denis Supermarket as a spanner was thrown in their works when the police got wind of their plans.
The Provincial Tracking Team together with the Tactical Response Team (TRT) acted on information received, and at the supermarket, the group of suspects opened fire when they saw the police, who were compelled to return fire.
Police managed to corner and arrest seven of the group members and confiscated five firearms. Some of the suspects fled the scene.
Of the seven suspects, five were wounded during the shootout and later hospitalised under police guard, while two were in police custody.
“The team of men in blue further seized a white getaway motor vehicle of the suspects, which was mounted with wrong number plates. The vehicle was loaded with equipment used in the commission of housebreakings,” said Hlathi.
Hlathi said there is a manhunt for the rest of the group that escaped and asked anybody who might know their whereabouts to contact Lieutenant Colonel Muntu Mbatha at 082 770 0877 or to call the SAPS Crime Stop number at 08600 10111.
The suspects are facing charges of attempted business robbery, attempted murder, possession of unlicensed firearms and ammunition.
Constable Thabang Petros Mabena, Ogies communication officer, said three of the wounded suspects were discharged from hospital and, together with their two cohorts, appeared in the Ogies Magistrate’s Court on Tuesday.
The other two suspects are still in hospital.
– Caxton News Service