Residents recall how cash van heist happened

A group of men bombed a cash in transit van in Katlehong on Saturday.
A group of men bombed a cash in transit van in Katlehong on Saturday.

Lerato Ngubeni was rudely woken up by a loud bang outside her house, followed by gunshots and a massive explosion.

Ngubeni, whose house on Madia Street in Katlehong is located few metres from the scene of Saturday's brazen cash-in-transit heist, was left with cracked and shattered windows. Yesterday Ngubeni was counting her blessings but also the cost of the damage left on her home.

The mother of two described frightening scenes of the heist that left a cash van guard injured after a shootout with a group of armed robbers.

"At first I thought it was taxi drivers fighting with each other, but saw the money truck parked next to my yard.

"At the time, a white Mercedes-Benz had already crashed into the truck."

Witnesses told Sowetan yesterday that a large group of armed robbers ambushed cash van and blew it up with explosives that left it on fire minutes after they left.

The criminals made off with an undisclosed amount of cash. The incident came four days after police minister Bheki Cele said police had made great strides in curbing cash-in-transit heists.

Last week Cele said between April 1 and November 4 this year, 118 cash-in-transit heists had been recorded across the country.

In the same period last year, 184 cases were reported - indicating a decrease in the number of heists this year.

He said 237 people had been arrested in connection with heists and that 92 vehicles used in robberies were recovered, along with 1402 rounds of ammunition.

But for Ngubeni the figures were cold comfort.

She explained how she ran back to her house to hide after initially going outside to investigate the cause of the loud bang that felt like a crash.

She said the explosives used by the robbers rattled her house and shattered windows.

"I thought we were going to die because I thought anyone could have been hit with a stray bullet or injured from the debris," she said.

Another resident, Bongani Khumalo, said he was standing outside his house when he saw the white Mercedes-Benz crashing into the cash van.

"I knew the second it crashed into that van that this was a heist. I ran indoors and could hear a gunfight while I laid on the floor. I thought someone was killed but I heard that only one security was injured. He was lucky."

National police spokesperson Brigadier Vishnu Naidoo said the heist was "just a sporadic incident because we have been working hard in ensuring that we decrease the number of CIT heists by 36%".

"We have arrested 10 of the 20 most wanted CIT robbery suspects and believe we have tremendously dented CIT syndicates," Naidoo said.

He said police were not anticipating a spike in CIT robberies during the festive season as measures have been put in place to foil such attempts.

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