The South African Police Services (SAPS) has condemned the actions of shoppers at a Durban mall who allegedly stole items just minutes after heavily armed men stormed two jewellery stores, Mayuris Jewellers and Sterns.
It is alleged that after the gang had fled, bystanders who witnessed the robbery, entered both stores and stole the remaining jewellery while threatening the highly traumatised workers.
KwaZulu-Natal Police Commissioner, Lieutenant General Nhlanhla Mkhwanazi said police have launched a manhunt for the robbers. Said Mkhwanazi:
Whilst we have launched a manhunt for the gang who initially robbed the jewellery stores we will spare no effort in ensuring that those bystanders who made themselves criminals by robbing both stores themselves are also investigated fully for their actions.
… The investigation team will also pursue robbery charges against the culprits responsible for the crimes that were committed in the aftermath of the first robbery.
Reaction Unit SA (RUSA) reported that multiple shots were fired during the robberies and one of the employees was injured. RUSA’s Prem Balram said:
The Rusa Phoenix Operations Centre received multiple calls from shoppers reporting shots being fired.
All available reaction officers were dispatched to the mall and on arrival were informed that the robbers had fled in a white VW Polo and an A-Class Mercedes-Benz. Both vehicles were fitted with NUR registration plates.
KZN SAPS spokesperson, Brigadier Jay Naicker, said officers responded to the scene and there was a shootout between the police officers and the suspects on the Phoenix Highway.
He said the robbers, who were armed with high calibre firearms, caused extensive damage to the police vehicle before fleeing with their loot. Said Naicker:
The police officers were able to escape unscathed during the attack. Police at Phoenix have assembled a team to hunt down the robbers.
Police warned communities that they become criminals when they help themselves to property at crime scenes.