ATM gang bombs West Rand centre

Sipho None, Clifford Mogotsi and Zinhle Mapumulo

Sipho None, Clifford Mogotsi and Zinhle Mapumulo

A heavily armed gang bombed two ATMs at the Kagiso shopping mall on the West Rand and sped off with an undisclosed amount of cash yesterday.

The gang, which is believed to be part of an ATM bomb syndicate, struck at 2.30am.

Describing the dramatic robbery yesterday, a security guard told Sowetan how five balaclava-clad thugs stormed a Standard Bank ATM.

He said he and a colleague were surprised by the gang - who held them at gunpoint and instructed them to point out the building's panic buttons.

The gang, who were driving in a Nissan Hardbody, then bundled the two guards into a small room at the back of the mall.

Yesterday's incident comes in the wake of widespread bombings of the money machines across the country in the past few weeks.

In the first three days of January three ATMs were blown up in Mpumalanga. Three days later an ATM was bombed in KwaZulu-Natal's north coast.

Since the beginning of this year more than 16 ATMs have been blown up countrywide.

KwaZulu-Natal accounted for more than half of the cases reported. A recent incident took place at Wallers Caltex service station in Hammarsdale near Durban. In January four ATMs were bombed in Eastern Cape.

"We had just completed our morning security check-ups around the shopping mall, when we were surprised by five men.

"While we were being interrogated three of the five gang members went to the ATMs and started to break the walls around them," said one guard.

He said that he later realised that there were more gang members than the five that had accosted him and his colleague.

"There were about 20 or so who were also armed and strategically positioned around the mall as well as at the nearby filling station."

Shoeb Malik, the owner of the Kagiso DIY Centre in the mall, was livid when approached for comment about the explosion and the cost of damage to his store.

"This situation is serious in that we cannot handle our customer's needs and do business as usual," he said.

West Rand police spokesman Senior Superintendent Steve Mabuela said the gang fled with an undisclosed amount of cash and that only R4888 was recovered at the scene.

"Two ATMs were blown up by suspected members of the ATM bomb syndicate. No arrests have been made and we are investigating," Mabuela said.