Bullet casings and banknotes - cash heist aftermath
First‚ it was the bullet cartridges littering the road.
Then‚ concerns about the possibility of undetonated explosives forced police to expand the size of the crime scene where a dramatic cash-in-transit heist took place in Boksburg on Thursday.
TimesLIVE was at the scene shortly after the heist. The smoke from the explosions that ripped apart the G4S cash vans had dissipated‚ the indiscriminate gunshots had ceased. A movie-like scene greeted curious bystanders in Atlas Road.
Behind the second damaged cash van was an abandoned construction truck which had somehow ended up in the crossfire as guards exchanged gunfire with the robbers.
The cash vans were targeted by several gunmen wielding assault rifles at 9.30am who were travelling in an SUV and other vehicles. About 10 suspects exchanged fire with the G4S‚ and two of the four guards were injured‚ while some motorists recorded the shootout on video.
Police chased the suspects‚ who appeared to pull off the heist with military precision‚ using a helicopter to pursue them as they sped away. Some of the gang were cornered and captured at George Goch hostel in Johannesburg.
Back at the scene of the heist‚ banknotes flew about in the wind prompting forensic investigators to collect the scattering cash. Some young men managed to sneak onto the crime scene. Police immediately stopped and searched them and recovered some cash.
The bomb squad poured over the scene. As the drama continued‚ one of the G4S guards sat on the ground looking totally disoriented. Officials from his company kept speaking to him but he simply sat there with his legs stretched out and his hands in his lap.
Police closed the M2 West towards the Johannesburg CBD for hours as they tried to contain all roads leading to the hostel. At the entrance to the hostel‚ as police searched for more suspects‚ the sound of mbaqanga and maskandi music could be heard. Next to the security gate was a group of men having the usual daily beef braai.
“They came in a lot cars‚ got some people and left‚” said one of the residents‚ describing how police had swooped on the fleeing gang.
Police spokesperson Captain Mavela Masondo said that cash-in-transit heists were becoming a serious problem for the police in Gauteng.
“It is a worry for us as the police with the number of cash-in-transit heists that we are encountering these days. But we’ve got measures in place [to deal with them]. Now that we have arrested these ones‚ it is a breakthrough and we believe that it[the crime] will come down‚” Masondo said.
Police have arrested at least five suspects‚ recovered a suspected getaway vehicle and a rifle. Paramedics said at least eight people‚ two of them bystanders‚ were injured.