Manhunt for armed cigarette bandits

JULY 30, 2015

Police in the Free State are busy with an intense manhunt after a gang of heavily armed garage bandits wreaked havoc in the Botshabelo area over the past two weeks.

Three garages – two in Botshabelo and one near Bloemfontein – have been robbed during this time. The Botshabelo garages were hit on Tuesday and Wednesday night respectively, and one just outside Bloemfontein on July 15.

“We have reason to believe the same group of robbers are responsible for all three incidents,” said police spokesperson Zweli Mohobeleli. “The thugs used the same modus operandi in all the cases.”

The five men wore balaclavas, he told News24.

“They hold the garage staff at gunpoint and steal all the cigarettes they can find. Then they look for a drop-safe and use explosives to blast it open, before they flee the scene in a white BMW.”

Mohobeleli said this garage robbing trend is new in the area. “But if this is a gang that operated like this elsewhere in the past, we will find out quickly and connect the dots.”

He urged the public not to try and apprehend the suspects, as they were armed.

Anybody with information can contact the investigating officer, Colonel Ketlamoreng Mafoyane, on 082 373 9259 or 051-407-3600.