The Somerset West Post Office fell victim to brazen armed robbers who pounced on the business in broad daylight on Tuesday (1 October).
Swift response by police and various partners in the fight against crime resulted in the arrest of a suspect who was hospitalised with a gunshot wound to the leg.
According to a police report, the incident unfolded when two armed men entered the post office located in Church Street at 09:25. The suspected armed robbers allegedly threatened staff at gunpoint and demanded money from the safe. They looted an undisclosed amount of money taken from the safe and fled the scene in a black Mercedes-Benz Compressor.
When DistrictMail arrived on the scene, unaware patrons had gathered outside the post office, enquiring about its closure. An employee of a financial services company located at the same premises, also found his way to the scene after their online server connection was lost about the same time that the alleged armed robbery had occurred.
A visibly traumatised pensioner who found herself inside the post office at the time of the incident, recalled queueing for her Sassa payment when the men entered the building. The trembling pensioner said one of the men commanded her and others to keep quiet as they proceeded to collect their loot.
Heyns de Waal, chief operating officer for Gordon’s Bay Security, said they responded to the incident after receiving a police call of an armed robbery in progress at the post office at 09:20. De Waal said while en route to the scene, a description of the suspected getaway vehicle was received and shared via their radio network. De Waal explained that one of their armed response officers spotted the suspect car while travelling near the Victoria Street / N2 intersection and responded accordingly by tailing the target vehicle. He said they communicated with the Flying Squad and K9 Unit who planned on cornering the vehicle near Baden Powell.
“With assistance from Macassar police and other private security providers, the suspect vehicle was blocked off at the Baden Powell on-ramp,” said De Waal. “Following a failed attempt to evade arrest by reversing down the ramp, the suspect jumped out of the vehicle and appeared to reach for what was believed to be a firearm when he was wounded in the leg by a police officer who opened fire.”
Sontaga Seisa, spokesperson for the Independent Police Investigative Directorate (IPID), said that they are in the process of obtaining reports on the alleged shooting during which an adult male was wounded by a police official. Seisa said a case of discharge of an official firearm will be investigated in terms of their mandate.
The suspect received medical treatment by GBMed paramedics on the scene before he was transported and admitted to hospital under police guard. According to police the confiscated vehicle was reportedly involved in a hijacking in KwaNobuhle in August.
Somerset West police are investigating a case of business robbery while Macassar police have opened a case of possession of stolen vehicle. Two suspects, who allegedly fled in the direction of a nearby railway station following the incident, remain at large.
Anyone with relevant information can call the Somerset West police on 021 850 1303 or 08600 10111.
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