Hawks lift veil on cash heist gangs in Eastern Cape

The Hawks have linked eight heavily armed gangster syndicates - some from Gauteng‚ and some with military training - to the wave of business robberies around East London and a spate of cash-in-transit heists.

This startling revelation‚ made in court‚ comes hours after Brett Pope of Sanan’s Supermarket and JJ Kobus Fourie were shot to death by car hijackers on the Mdantsane access road on Wednesday.

Hawks investigator Constable Mnoneleli Ceba’s testimony on Thursday in the bail hearing of three of the five suspects – two of them from Johannesburg – arrested late last month provided the first official insights into the rash of armed robberies around East London in the last two weeks and a number of cash-in-transit heists across the Eastern Cape.

He said this came after Eastern Cape Hawks arrested five suspects on separate occasions in the past few weeks.

Ceba told bail magistrate Joel Cesar that there had been over 18 cash-in-transit heists in the province since January and close to 20 armed business robberies across East London in recent weeks.

He said some of the gang members suspected for these attacks‚ “were military-trained and were using high-calibre‚ fully automatic rifles such as AK47s and R5 rifles”.

The five accused – Warren Isaac and Patison Ncube from Johannesburg‚ Al Percino “Cino” Shearer and Shirley Gunuza from Parkside‚ and Sonwabile Mafanya from Mdantsane – were arrested last month.

The Hawks say they intercepted a plan to rob a local butchery.

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