Supermarket hostage drama

Pertunia Ratsatsi

Pertunia Ratsatsi

A seven-hour hostage drama unfolded when a supermarket's staff were held hostage by four gunmen yesterday.

The drama started at about 7am at the Shoprite supermarket in Themba Shopping Centre in Hammanskraal, Gauteng.

Four armed men entered the store just after the manager had opened two safes in his office, police said.

"The men entered the manager's office and pointed a gun at him and his female assistant," police spokesman Matthews Nkoadi said.

"They tied their hands with masking tape before taking the money from the two safes and emptying it into a bag.

"By the time they left the store the police had already arrived.

"The manager and his assistant managed to escape.

"The gunmen ran back into the store, where they held staff members hostage.

"They later released them and hid in the store's ceiling."

Police called for back-up, including negotiators who tried to convince the gunmen to surrender.

"The gunmen, aged between 22 and 25, wore balaclavas during the hostage drama.

"They decided to turn themselves in at about 2pm after police threatened to shoot," said Nkoadi.

A firearm, a bag of money and a bottle of black liquid, believed to be muti, were found during the arrest.

Police were still searching the store for more firearms hours later.

The men will be charged with attempted robbery and possession of an unlicensed firearm when they appear in the Themba magistrate's court soon.