Cops escape unharmed, praised for bravery in dramatic Durban shoot-out
Two Westville police officers who were involved in a brazen daylight shoot-out with a gang of armed robbers in Durban on Thursday escaped unharmed.
The officers, who cannot be identified at this stage as they are undergoing a debriefing, were caught on camera and CCTV footage battling it out with seven heavily armed men who had held up the Village Market post office in Westville.
During the gun battle the officers managed to fatally wound a 34-year-old suspect.
In a media statement on Friday, police commended the relentless bravery of the two officers.
According to police the two members, both warrant officers attached to the Westvile police station, responded separately to a complaint about an armed robbery about 08:30am on Thursday at the post office.
"Three suspects in balaclavas allegedly forced their way into the post office and demanded Sassa (social security) money from one of the staff members, and started assaulting her when she said the money had not arrived at the post office."
The suspects allegedly continued assaulting the teller, forcing her to hand over an undisclosed amount of money as well as her personal jewellery.
"The three suspects ran out of the post office to an awaiting getaway bakkie which had another four occupants in it."
The two police officers and the suspects spotted each other, resulting in a shoot-out between them.
"The suspects, armed with AK47 rifles and pistols, drove away in the bakkie as they continued to shoot randomly as well as at the police officers. Several vehicles, including the police vehicle, and buidings were damaged after being riddled with bullets."
The police officers, despite being outnumbered, remained relentless throughout the shoot-out and fatally wounded a 34-year-old suspect while the other suspects managed to escape. It is believed other suspects may have also been wounded.
"One of the police officers, who was seen falling in the video, sustained slight injuries to both his arms while the second member escaped unscathed."
A Z88 pistol with the serial number filed off was recovered at the scene. Shortly afterwards the bakkie was found abandoned and burning at 28th Avenue in Clermont, west of Durban. This vehicle was reported hijacked in Malvern in July this year.
National commissioner of police Gen Khehla John Sitole said: "The response of our two police officers was exceptionally patriotic and selfless. I personally called and congratulated both colleagues this morning for their unwavering determination and highly commendable bravery. I will also be visiting them in the very near future", said Sitole.
Police have appealed to anyone who may have information on the whereabouts of the remaining suspects, some of whom may be seeking medical attention, or even crime in general, to furnish them with such information via their SAPS MySAPSApp or Crime Stop number 086 00 10111.
"All callers may remain anonymous and information will be treated with strictest confidence," the statement read.