VENDOR Aufi Ali was still shaking, 10 hours after the mayhem that left a security guard dead yesterday.
"He was clearly going to kill me. I looked into his eyes as he approached. I saw cruelty. He opened fire on me."
Ali was describing how he narrowly escaped with his life after four heavily armed robbers opened fire on SBV cash-in-transit guards at the Three Rivers shopping centre in Vereeniging before turning on him.
When the shooting died down, a guard lay dead, four cars were left riddled with bullets, more than 30 spent cartridges littered the scene and Ali was nursing a knee, injured from falling.
Police found a 9mm pistol and a semi-automatic rifle abandoned at the scene.
The bloody gun battle started soon after the money van arrived at the centre just after 10am.
Police said the robbers fled with an undisclosed amount of money.
They said one of the robbers was shot and injured but his accomplices managed to drag him into their getaway car as they retreated.
Warrant Officer Happy Nape said three guards arrived in the van and one of them left the vehicle, pushing a trolley towards ABSA Bank.
He was shot from close range as he approached the entrance.
Nape said a shootout ensued between the other guards and robbers.
Ali said "it was like a Wild West movie scene" as people dived for cover.
"I thank my ancestors that I am still alive. As the guards and robbers exchanged fire, one man turned and looked at me. I was selling vegetables, fruits and sweets on the other side of the street. He looked straight at me, pointed his firearm and fired a shot at me.
"I jumped and fled. Fortunately I reached the corner of the post office wall. That wall saved me. Police counted five bullet marks on the wall. He was definitely killing me," Ali said.
He said a blue BMW sedan arrived at the same time as the money van.
"I stood there helplessly as they shot the guard. As I ran for cover, I heard thuds as bullets hit the wall above my head before I turned the corner. I should have been dead," Ali said.
Nape said the dead guard would only be identified once his next of kin had been notified.
Several cars in the vicinity were sprayed with bullets.
The getaway vehicle was found abandoned a kilometre from the scene. No arrests have been made and police are investigating, Nape said.
Also this month, two security guards were shot and wounded during a cash-in-transit heist in Greytown, KwaZulu-Natal.