Grahamstown payday heist suspects still at large

BY TAI CHISHAKWE - NOVEMBER 5, 2014

Grahamstown police have urged the public to be on the lookout for a white Mercedes Benz (registration FBY 229EC) which was used as a getaway vehicle following a shootout in Grahamstown’s Joza Township on Friday 31 October.

A shootout erupted minutes after robbers pounced on a local construction company employee and robbed him of the wages he had brought to pay workers on the Holland Street building site in the city centre.

Police believe the robbers may have abandoned the vehicle after officers from Hi-Tec Security Company confronted them in Grahamstown.

Crime Intelligence Officer, Milanda Coetzer, told local community newspaper, Grocott's Mail, that the vehicle might offer new leads in the investigation.

"It was shot several times by Hi-Tec's armed response team. By now it should be abandoned and we urge the public to be on the lookout for it because it is a very important piece in the chain of evidence," Coetzer said.

The white Mercedes Benz was left riddled with bullets by the armed response unit after they spotted it, minutes after the heist.

The heist

Coetzer said in a statement that it was soon after the 62-year old victim and his companion had arrived in Holland Street with the wages for their employees that two men with hand guns confronted them.

After assaulting the paymaster, the two men fled with the bags of cash.

“They sped away in a white Mercedes-Benz which had been parked around the corner and drove away in the general direction of the CBD,” she said.

Minutes after the alarm was raised, Grahamstown security company, Hi-Tec, identified the vehicle in Sani Street, in the town’s Joza Township and followed it to Extension 4, where a shoot-out ensured.

“Several shots were fired and the Hi-Tec vehicle, as well as the walls of the surrounding residential homes, were damaged,” Coetzer said.

She said that during the shootout, some of the wage envelopes fell from the Mercedes and were left strewn across the road. No injuries were reported.

After the Hi-Tec vehicle had been incapacitated, the robbers got into the Mercedes Benz and sped away.

Hi-Tec’s Kenny Knoetze,  told Grocott’s Mail that the Hi-Tec vehicle was left with six bullet holes and that they also managed to retrieve some of the money that fell during the shootout.

“There were four men in total in the car. They used an automatic rifle and two handguns and we don’t think they are from around Grahamstown,” Knoetze said.

Coetzer urged members of the public not to approach the white Mercedes Benz (registration FBY229EC), or its occupants, as they were armed and dangerous.

“They will not hesitate to use deadly force if they feel threatened,” she said. The police request anyone with information to contact Lieutenant Mzwandile Maleki at 082 3199 255.