HUNT FOR FIVE BANK THUGS

MPUMALANGA police have launched a manhunt for five heavily armed men who got away with thousands of rands and wounded a police inspector during a bank robbery in Standerton.

MPUMALANGA police have launched a manhunt for five heavily armed men who got away with thousands of rands and wounded a police inspector during a bank robbery in Standerton.

The robbers, armed with handguns and AK-47 rifles, entered the Standard Bank in Standerton at about 11am on December 15 and took cash from the tellers after failing to open the safe.

Captain Leonard Hlathi of the Mpumalanga organised crime unit said the thugs held employees and clients up at gunpoint and ordered them to lie face down on the floor before going to the manager's office.

"They led her to the safe but failed to open it. They then emptied the teller machines before fleeing," he said.

Hlathi said outside the bank the robbers met a police inspector from the Standerton dog unit "on his way to the bank, unaware of the robbery that had just taken place".

"The gunmen opened fire on the inspector, hitting him in the leg," he said

Despite being wounded he returned fire and followed the red getaway bakkie, that was found abandoned on the outskirts of Standerton on Route 23 to Johannesburg.

The bakkie was reported stolen a day before the robbery in Brackendowns in Gauteng.

Hlathi appealed to the public to help the police by providing information about the robbers' whereabouts. He warned the public not to confront the armed men.

Anyone with information should contact the investigating officer, Inspector John Malope on 082-782-3060 or Hlathi on 082-462-0804.

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