Tycoon's house venue for heist plot

A house in Riviera Park, North West, where police arrested nine men suspected of planning a cash-in-transit robbery. /Tiro Ramatlhatse
A house in Riviera Park, North West, where police arrested nine men suspected of planning a cash-in-transit robbery. /Tiro Ramatlhatse

A Mahikeng house where police swooped on nine men allegedly planning a cash-in-transit heist on Friday morning, belongs to a local businessman and socialite.

Neighbours to the Riviera Park home, one of the posh suburbs in Mahikeng, told Sowetan they were woken up by sounds of explosions and gunshots as police swarmed the usually quiet neighbourhood at the crack of dawn.

The socialite, who wears an ANC T-shirt in pictures circulated on social media, cannot be named until he appears in court.

The man, who is known in social circles as "Uncle Terry", was trending on social media after his arrest.

The police, acting on a tip-off, ripped through the streets of Riviera Park, placing locals under lockdown for an hour before arresting the men suspected to be cash heist robbers.

A neighbour told Sowetan he had never seen such a large number of policemen holding high-calibre guns.

"We heard sounds of high-calibre gunfire for about five minutes, and we wondered what was happening," he said.

He said he only got the courage to go out of the gate two hours later at about 6.30am.

"I saw about 20 heavily armed policemen closing the streets," he said.

The man, who has lived in the suburb for more than 25 years, said he had never experienced that kind of a scene.

Police spokesperson Brigadier Vishnu Naidoo said the gunshots started when four of the suspects who were not aware that the police were already in the house arresting the other six inside, noticed their presence and fled the scene, resulting in a high-speed chase.

He said police started firing shots and managed to stop the suspects' car. Three of the four were arrested.

He said one managed to escape and is still on the run.

When Sowetan visited the home, a man who works at the house said that he saw two of the suspects a day before the arrest. "I opened for them, my boss was not part of them, they said my boss would call me and explain why they were there. I did not suspect anything," he said.

He said after doing his duties, he left the men there and went home.

He said "Uncle Terry" came home once or twice a month as he spends most of his time in Pretoria with his family.

Naidoo said the police recovered six firearms including one AK-47 rifle, an Uzi, handguns and several rounds of ammunition and four luxury cars - a black Jeep, Audi Q5, Mercedes ML and a Ford Ranger.

He said a docket of conspiracy to commit robbery and possession of suspected stolen motor vehicles was registered.

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