Cops 10 ... Robbers 0 in mall shootouts

POLICE are clamping down on crime, leaving a number of robbers dead.

POLICE are clamping down on crime, leaving a number of robbers dead.

Gauteng police have shot and killed at least 10 alleged robbers in less than a week.

With shopping-mall robberies increasing, experts say mall security guards must be armed so that they can protect themselves.

More than 20 robberies occurred at malls in July, while 18 were reported last month. Seventeen men have been arrested for these crimes.

Prince Mashele, the head of the crime, justice and politics programme at the Institute for Security Studies said: "What we are observing now is a displacement of crimes. At first we experienced cash-in-transit heists and police clamped down on robbers.

"The robbers then shifted to ATM bombings and police got a grip on that too. Now we see an increase in mall attacks. At the centre of all these robberies is the use of firearms."

Yesterday, robbers bombed a safe at a bottle store, robbed pizza and cellphone shops and a juice factory.

lTwo men fled with about 30 cellphones valued at about R40000 from a CellC outlet at Carnival Mall in Brakpan yesterday.

lFour men robbed a Debonairs Pizza restaurant in Richmond of an undisclosed amount of money on Monday night. Two men were arrested in Hillbrow, while two are still at large.

lA shop owner in Crosby was robbed of R500 by five men while opening his supermarket.

lRobbers fled with an undisclosed amount of money after bombing the safe of a bottle store in Randfontein yesterday.

lTwo men have been charged with theft, possession of unlicensed firearms and ammunition after they robbed a juice factory in Chloorkop on the East Rand.

Mashele said many robbers were losing their lives in these deadly shootouts because police "had better training and have more strength than the robbers.

"The fact that we are seeing a stoppage in one crime and the start of another means that there are grounds to suspect that there is a relationship between heist gangs, ATM bombers and robbers now attacking malls," Mashele said.

He said guards should be given enhanced training.

"People providing security at malls are guards. The police come in later after an incident has happened.

"Guards should be in a position to fight fire with fire at all times," he said.

l Yesterday, two suspected robbers were shot dead and two others critically wounded in a shoot-out with police at Bloubosrand in Johannesburg.

l On Monday, a robber was shot and killed during a shootout with police at Southgate Mall.

l On Wednesday, four men were gunned down during a "movie-like scene" in Orlando East, Soweto. They had attacked a Shoprite U Save supermarket in the area.

l On Thursday, police shot and killed three robbers at a pharmaceutical company in Olifantsfontein, Ekurhuleni. In yesterday's incident, four men triggered the electric-fence alarm of Waterford Estate.