Guards outgun armed gang

Shocked workers speak to police after an attempted heist and shootout in Sidwell
Picture: Fredlin Adriaan

PE store shootout may be linked to Peddie heist

A manhunt is under way following an early morning gunfight between security guards and an armed gang who tried to ambush them during a cash drop-off in Sidwell yesterday.

The attempted heist happened at the Boxer Superstore in Commercial Road at about 5.15am, when a gang of about nine men – all armed with pistols – attempted to storm the building while Fidelity Security cash-in-transit guards were preparing to drop off money.

The two cash-in-transit guards, who were armed with semi-automatic rifles, managed to fend off the robbers during a gunfight in which more than 21 rounds were exchanged.

Six hours before the Sidwell heist attempt, another robbery and shootout took place at the SUPERSPAR in Peddie, and police are investigating whether the two incidents are linked to the same gang.

Detectives investigating the Sidwell crime have described the gang as well organised after it came to light that they had tied up the store’s onsite security guard minutes before the cash drop-off.

By 10am, detectives and forensic experts were still scouring the scene for evidence as many of the bullets had penetrated the shop wall.

Several bullet casings lay scattered inside the store grounds and in adjoining Hart Road at the back entrance of the store.

Police suspect the gunmen lay in wait on the premises after the store’s delivery entrance gate – which is at the back of the building – was left open for the Fidelity guards to drive onto the premises.

“The gunmen forced the onsite security [guard] into the guard hut at the back shortly after he unlocked the delivery gate for the staff to gain entry at about 5am,” a police official said.

“After he was taken hostage, more staff arrived and as they entered, the gunmen locked them inside the guard hut.

“The cash-in-transit guards had no idea what was happening as they were able to drive straight onto the premises.

“When the security van arrived, the gate was standing open and the robbers hiding, [waiting] for the guards to bring out the money.”

Police spokeswoman Colonel Priscilla Naidu said the gang pounced on the two guards when one emerged from the building and walked towards their vehicle.

“He [Fidelity guard] had just exited the building through the back delivery door when he spotted a man walking towards him with a firearm,” she said.

“The security official managed to backtrack inside the building as the shootout ensued.

“While they were exchanging gunfire, more suspects who had been hiding nearby, appeared.

“The shootout continued when the second Fidelity guard who was inside the security vehicle also began shooting at the suspects.”

Naidu said both guards managed to take cover in the back doorway of the building while shooting.

“One security guard was shot in the arm and taken to hospital, while it is believed one of the robbers was also injured,” she said.

“The Fidelity guards were armed with semi-automatic rifles and we suspect the gang realised that they were outgunned and retreated after being met with resistance.”

In the hasty retreat, one of the robbers dropped a 9mm pistol on the premises.

“The ballistic unit has taken the firearm for testing and will be analysing it to assist with identifying the suspects involved,” Naidu said.

By midmorning, detectives were canvassing hospitals, searching for gunshot victims.

Boxer Superstores marketing director Andrew Mills said three staff members, including the onsite security guard, had been taken to hospital for a check-up.

“They were assaulted but none sustained any serious injuries,” he said.

Police spokeswoman Captain Mali Govender said nine men engaged in a shootout with police at 11pm on Sunday after blowing open a safe in the SUPERSTORE in Peddie.

Similar to the Sidwell attempted heist, the gunmen held a security guard hostage at the back entrance of the store to gain entry.

Govender said that police in Peddie responded to a call about an explosion at the store.

The suspects fired several shots at police whilst moving towards an exit.

Police returned fire. A state vehicle was damaged and a bullet struck a policeman’s boot, narrowly missing his foot.

Police action prevented the gang from making off with the cash which investigators found on the scene, Govender said.

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