Millions intended to be spent on the health needs of Eastern Cape residents have gone missing from d.
People outside a post office in Impendle couldn't believe their eyes when R60000 fell down to earth like manna from heaven.
They pounced on the loot and fled with nearly R50000 of it after scooping up the "free money" that burst from a bag a robber had dropped.
The suspect was being chased by a security guard when he tripped, fell and dropped the money bag after he and four other thugs had just robbed the post office.
The money flew all over the place but the security guard was so busy running after the robbers that she did not worry about the excited public grabbing the cash.
Police spokesman Joey Jeevan said when the robber was finally apprehended, angry bystanders attacked and assaulted him and he is now in hospital being guarded by police.
He said five men, armed with handguns, entered the post office and disarmed a security guard .
One of the suspects fired at a guard, wounding him in the arm, while another suspect held up the cashier who was busy with pension payouts.
A police official close to the investigation said the suspects removed R60000 from the cashier's drawer and fled.
A security guard who was on duty outside the post office chased after them.
"The female guard, with the help of the members of public, apprehended the suspect, but guards on the scene only managed to recover R10630."
Jeevan said the other robbers had fled in a stolen white Nissan bakkie and headed for the Inzinga area.
The police received information that the suspects were near the mountains and chased them for about 40km on a dirt road.
The suspects finally abandoned the vehicle and fled on foot.
"The police arrested three suspects and recovered a .38 Special revolver with the serial number erased," Jeevan said.
He said another of the suspects is also in hospital after being bitten by a dog.
Only one of the five suspects is still at large.