Robbers armed with assault rifles and explosives blew up two armoured cash-carrying vans in Johannesburg this week in a brazen broad-daylight incident that underscored South Africa’s reputation for violent crime.
In dramatic cellphone footage of the incident recorded by a motorist, the assailants seal off a block in the suburb of Boksburg, east of Johannesburg’s commercial centre, before calmly detonating explosives under the cash vans.
Three large explosions are heard, with plumes of grey smoke shooting up into the air. There are also rapid exchanges of gunfire before and after the blasts, although it is not clear where the shots were coming from.
The assailants, who numbered around a dozen, then load sacks into at least two get-away cars before speeding away. Motorists caught up in the shoot-out are seen pulling U-turns across the road to escape the scene.
Police said two security guards in the cash vans were injured in the incident and were treated in hospital. They also said some of the robbers were arrested after being tracked by helicopter to a run-down industrial park.
Security experts quoted in South African media said the way the assailants behaved and handled the weapons suggested they had military backgrounds.
Meanwhile, the Portfolio Committee on Police will have a special hearing on the recent spate of cash-in-transit heists next week Wednesday.
The hearing will also be attended by major private security companies, Business against Crime, South African Banking Risk Information Centre (Sabric), Private Security Industry Regulatory Authority and the Private Security Association, who will ensure that coordination and cooperation is increased to deal with this crime trend.
The announcement by the Portfolio Committee on Police chairperson, Francois Beukman, follows the latest incident in Boksburg on Thursday, where a group of heavily armed robbers blew up two cash-in-transit vans on Atlas Road.
Police arrested seven suspects linked to the brazen heist at George Goch hostel. Eight people, including two bystanders, were injured during the robbery.
The committee has highlighted that it is unacceptable that the cash-in-transit heists are becoming a normal in the country.
“These acts of criminality, undertaken using high calibre rifles, must be condemned at all times and society must work with law enforcement agencies to effectively deal with the matter,” said Beukman.
SAPS management, he said, must also strengthen the Crime Intelligence and Directorate for Priority Crime Investigation units to deal with the upsurge from various angles.
The committee believes that police management should implement short- to medium-term measures to deal with the current crime trend.
The cash-in-transit companies must also work hand in glove with SAPS to come up with strategies to effectively deal with the matter.
Despite this, the committee welcomes the swift arrest of the perpetrators of the Boksburg heists.
“They must be successfully prosecuted and they must receive lengthy sentences in order to use them as examples that lawlessness will never be allowed to reign supreme,” Beukman said.