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Ten arrested in Cradock after Gqeberha jewellery heist

Suspects held after co-ordinated police action

Hours after a robbery at a jewellery store at Baywest Mall, 10 suspects were arrested in Cradock and valuables, believed to be from the heist, were found in their possession. File photo.
Hours after a robbery at a jewellery store at Baywest Mall, 10 suspects were arrested in Cradock and valuables, believed to be from the heist, were found in their possession. File photo.

Crime intelligence coupled with cutting edge security technology led to the swift arrests of 10 robbery suspects and the recovery of jewellery worth an estimated R1m.

The suspects, believed to have ties to a larger robbery syndicate linked to heists across the country, were allegedly fleeing to Gauteng after robbing a jewellery store at Baywest Mall on Wednesday morning.

However, their escape was thwarted as their movements were tracked from the moment they left Gqeberha up to when they were arrested in Cradock about 11 hours later.

Provincial police commissioner Lt-Gen Nomthetheleli Mene was thrilled with the multidisciplinary team and their efforts to track and detain the suspects.

“These speedy arrests are a testament to the synergy and unity that defines our members and units, as well as their excellent relationship with the various security companies,” Mene said.

The robbery occurred at about 11am when a gang of 10 robbers entered Browns Jewellers on the top floor of the mall. 

Staff members were held at gunpoint as the robbers helped themselves to jewellery, including rings, earrings and bracelets.

They ran from the mall and fled in two vehicles. 

An eyewitness, who asked not to be named, said he was walking near the shop when he heard a loud bang which sounded almost like an explosion.

“After the bang, we saw smoke coming out the jewellery store. Two people were lying down near the Browns entrance. One seemed to be dressed like a security guard.

“At first I wasn’t sure what was happening, then I saw a group of guys running towards Browns with a shopping trolley. As they arrived, guys from inside the shop started throwing big bags into the trolley. That’s when we realised it must be a robbery.”

He said the robbers ran to the nearest exit, some pushing the trolley, others carrying more bags in their hands. “But it all happened so quickly. These guys seemed unbothered that they might be caught. It was quite bizarre.”

Baywest GM Priscilla Govender-Dyers confirmed the incident, and thanked the police and their on-site security team for their efforts. She said the rest of the mall was unaffected and business continued as usual. 

As soon as the robbery was reported, the police’s Eastern Cape crime intelligence unit started gathering information and established that the alleged culprits were heading towards Gauteng.

Navic surveillance cameras and their licence plate recognition capabilities confirmed these suspicions and traced the vehicles as they headed north towards Cradock.

Members of the Cookhouse highway patrol unit, as well as Cradock K9 and visible policing units, monitored their movements and held waylay points along their route.

At about 9.45pm, a white VW Polo was stopped about 10km before Cradock,” police spokesperson Col Priscilla Naidu said.

“Five males were arrested and two firearms recovered.

“Shortly thereafter, a maroon VW Polo was also stopped and a further five males were arrested, with two more firearms confiscated.

“Some of the stolen jewellery was recovered during the operation,” Naidu said.

The vehicles were impounded pending the investigation.

She said the 10 suspects, aged between 24 and 37, were detained on charges of illegal possession of firearms and possession of stolen property. 

“Additional charges may be added as the investigation continues,” Naidu said.

The suspects will appear in the Cradock magistrate’s court soon.

Naidu said crime intelligence Eastern Cape was “certain” that the arrested suspects were part of a crime syndicate with ties to robberies in Gauteng and the North West, as well as a string of other crimes across KwaZulu-Natal.


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