Nine suspected cash-in-transit robbers were gunned down in a shootout with police in Sebokeng, southern Gauteng on Thursday morning.
The gun battle erupted at about 5am when the police pounced on a house in Golden Gardens following information from crime intelligence that the residence was being used by suspects involved in a string of heists in the province.
According to Police Minister Bheki Cele, when the police arrived at the house, three cars were idling outside with another one inside the yard.
The suspects opened fire on the police and a shootout ensured.
Eight suspects were killed on the scene while four others were injured and taken to the hospital, where one of them succumbed to his injuries.
When Sunday World arrived at the scene, there was pandemonium. A large contingent of police, forensics, paramedics, and special investigative directorate had cordoned off different parts of the area where the suspects were gunned down.
Acting Gauteng police spokesperson Brigadier Athlenda Mathe, who was also on the scene, said forensics were combing through the crime scene, which spread across various blocks of the area including the house where the suspects were intercepted, an empty stand where another suspect was shot dead, and another empty stand where another suspect was also shot.
Mathe said the police also found explosives and rifles inside the house, which is alleged to belong to a parolee.
“Six commercial explosives that were already assembled and ready to be utilised were found in the house, including six rifles,” she said.
Mathe could not confirm whether the owner of the house was among the suspects who were killed or those who are in hospital.
Traumatised neighbours described the horror of being awakened by the sound of machine guns, car sounds and loud voices.
“The sounds were so loud, that I thought the shooting was happening right inside my yard,” said a neighbour who lives a few metres from the house where the suspects were cornered.
She said on hearing the first gunshots, she checked the community WhatsApp group.
“That was when I learnt that the police were after criminals in the area. We were advised to stay inside our houses and away from the windows,” she said.
Some of the neighbours described the man who lives in the house as a normal guy who kept to himself.
“He is just a regular guy. He was hardly ever at home. I thought he worked. Everyone here minds their own business, so, I didn’t think much of the fact that he stayed alone.,” said one of the neighbours.
A number of other residents told Sunday World that they were unable to go to work because of shock and fear for the safety of their children.
One resident said he will not leave his family while there was still a corpse lying opposite his yard. “I’ve never experienced this in my life. I am grateful that we are unharmed and my property was not damaged,” he said.
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