A suspected Mozambican national was shot dead after allegedly pointing a toy gun at the police during a raid on the hideout of a gang linked to a series of burglaries in Mpumalanga recently.
The unidentified man was shot at the Coronation informal settlement in Witbank on Saturday.
Another Mozambican national, aged 32 , was arrested in a follow-up investigation.
Captain Leonard Hlathi said: "We will not hesitate to shoot to kill armed suspects who threaten the lives of the men in blue as well as lawabiding citizens."
Hlathi said seven businesses were burgled on Friday night alone.
All the shops are situated in the same complex and entry was gained through the roof.
The stolen items included dozens of cellphones, clothing and footwear from Markhams, Studio 88, Price Breaker Supermarket, Foschini, Tlou Furniture store and AK Supermarket, among others.
He said the police raided the shack at the Coronation informal settlement allegedly shared by seven of the thieves.
"The suspects spotted the police when they pulled over near the shack," Hlathi said.
"They fled but one of them pointed a toy gun at the police."
Hlathi said he was hit in the body but his friends carried him away and left him at the local provincial hospital, where he died after telling the nurses that he was shot by the police.
The police recovered most of the loot, including sealed cellphones and clothes with price tags, at the home of the suspects.
"A total of 20 new cellphones were recovered from a businesswoman in the Witbank CBD," he said.