Family escapes death as police foil farm attack

23-member group has been linked to 25 cases of murder, attempted murder, armed robbery and car hijacking

A FAMILY of five escaped a deadly farm attack on Sunday night after they were told by police and a security company that they were targeted by robbers.

Farm owner Craig Marwick and his family evacuated their farm in the Eston area outside Pietermaritzburg on Sunday as police planned to lie in wait for the gang.

"Police and private security company Magma informed us that they had received information just after 7pm that there was a planned robbery," said Marwick.

Members of the police's national intervention unit were deployed to the farm and waited for a gang of seven robbers, who were allegedly part of a gang of 23 who terrorised the area.

The gang arrived at the farm at about 10pm on Sunday, and tried to force their way onto the premises by trying to force open the farm gate.

National police spokesperson Colonel Vish Naidoo said police confronted the group, calling for them to surrender. The men refused.

"Instead, a shootout ensued between police and the suspects, which resulted in five suspects being shot dead and two escaping. One of the two suspects was later arrested," he said.

Police recovered seven firearms from the dead suspects, one of which was a police-issued pistol.

Naidoo said the gang apparently operated as a 23-member group, which has been linked to 25 cases of murder, attempted murder, armed robbery and car hijacking in the area.

Twelve of the 23 men were arrested last week in Mariannhill for various cases, including murder, attempted and armed robbery.

They were also linked to the killing of a businessman in Hammersdale two weeks ago.

National police commissioner General Bheki Cele said he was "elated" that his officers came away unscathed.

"I should imagine this incident would serve as a further reminder that our police officers will not take kindly to being shot at," he said

Marwick said: "As a family, we are grateful that we are alive."