police shoot dead 7 robbers

A DRAMA unfolded in Limpopo yesterday when police and robbers exchanged gunfire in a failed robbery that left seven criminals dead on the scene.

The Limpopo police rose to the occasion in "shoot-to-kill" style when they mowed down the seven would-be robbers.

They had been caught in the act of trying to steal money from a cash depot in Nirvana, a suburb near Polokwane.

A two-hour shoot-out ensued when the robbers were cornered after gaining forced entry to the Coin Security offices in Polokwane yesterday.

The men, some of whom were wearing balaclavas, cut open the gate to the company to gain entry.

They had allegedly started working on the money safe with an angle grinder grinding when the police found them.

The men allegedly started firing at the police. who returned fire.

Police spokesperson Musa Zondi said it appeared the men were dropped off by friends who apparently intended picking them up again later after the robbery.

He said the police acted on a tip-off after receiving information from members of the public about the planned crime.

When Sowetan arrived at the scene it looked like a war zone, with blood stains and dead bodies all over the place.

The police said one of the suspects seemed to have come from Mamelodi in Pretoria.

"We are worried that people from outside the province are coming to take chances in Limpopo," Zondi said.

"But we are sending a strong message to the robbers to look elsewhere because we are not going to tolerate any nonsense in this province."

He said the bodies would be kept at the government mortuary until they were identified and a postmortem had been conducted.

"As police we have declared war on criminals and are determined to do everything in our power to deal with criminal elements ruthlessly," Zondi said.

He said the police were ready for any eventuality that might arise as a result of criminal elements.

"We are going to beef up security for the festive season in order to curb robberies and ATM blasts to ensure the province remains free of crime," Zondi promised.

The police are also tracing those who might have assisted the robbers with information. They want to get to the bottom of the matter.

Zondi emphasised that the police acted in self-defence during the shoot-out.