KZN firepower and gang violence worries crime experts

Criminals are increasingly dangerous and better equipped with automatic rifles, commercial explosives and high-speed vehicles, say crime experts, who have expressed concern about high levels of violence linked to criminal gangs operating particularly in KwaZulu- Native.

The warnings follow a series of deadly robberies and cash-in-transit thefts in the province, including a dramatic shootout with police in Harding that left four people dead on Monday.

Police and private security were on alert when they received reports that a robbery was going to take place in Harding, southern KZN, on Monday.

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The multi-disciplinary police units, consisting of the Provincial Tracking Team and the Priority Crime Investigation Branch’s Anti-Gang Unit, the Pietermaritzburg K9 Unit, the Provincial Tactical Response Team and Magma Security and Investigations, have developed a strategy to catch thieves at the moment of theft. took place.

However, at least eight heavily armed robbers opened fire on police and private security guards after robbing a businessman of an undisclosed sum of cash as he left the bank at a local shopping center from the region Monday morning.

The dramatic shootout between the police and the robbers, which took place at the intersection of Hawkins and the N2 highway, left four suspects dead, while at least four others fled in the getaway vehicles in which they were traveling.

The incident is the latest in a series of robberies in the province, believed to be carried out by heavily armed and sophisticated gangs.

IRS Forensic Investigations organized crime investigator Chad Thomas is one of the experts sounding the alarm about increasing levels of robbery violence in the province.

Thomas said CIT criminals are becoming more dangerous and better equipped with automatic rifles, commercial explosives and high-speed vehicles.

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However, Thomas said, with increasing levels of violence from criminals, “we are seeing more disruptive operations and takedowns from the SAPS”.

“This is the result of intelligence-driven investigations carried out by SAPS Crime Intelligence and collaboration with the private security and investigation sector,” he said, adding that while there was decline in cash-in-transit (CIT) theft, there is still a serious problem, especially in KZN.

He said criminals seemed to be getting bolder in committing crimes and did not seem to care about the loss of life. (With these) violent crimes, there is always a risk of loss of life among security guards, police officers and civilians, as (criminals) now use high-end explosives. We have observed that gangs intentionally leave money scattered on the ground. They do this so that the crowd gathered around the crime scene rushes to collect this money and thus contaminate the crime scene.

“The problem is that some explosives could still be attached to the van and they could explode at any time,” Thomas said.

Thomas said the South African police’s criminal intelligence unit had the capacity to carry out undercover operations to unearth CIT’s theft syndicates and was doing so alongside other criminal investigations.

Shaheen Suleiman of Magma Security, who assists police units in their pursuit of suspects in Harding, said they often encounter crimes in the province, but there has recently been a trend of robberies and hold-ups ​​​violent.

“Often we protect our customers, our regions and agricultural communities and that is how we intervene,” he said, adding that no police officers or Magma employees were injured in this latest incident .

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KZN SAPS provincial spokesperson Colonel Robert Netshiunda said a gun as well as the businessman’s cash were found in the possession of the robbers, who were killed in the shootout from Monday.

“Anyone with information on the whereabouts of the suspects is asked to contact the nearest police station or call the anti-crime number 08600 10111,” he said.

Over the past month, several CIT thefts have taken place in the province.

Police were involved in a shootout with suspected CIT robbers in Camperdown last month.

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Lieutenant General Nhlanhla Mkhwanazi said detectives had tracked down several gangs suspected of being behind the CIT robberies operating in the King Cetshwayo and Harry Gwala districts.

Last week, a police captain was lucky to escape after being shot at by around twenty suspects during a robbery at the CIT. The police captain was on his way to a training exercise in Inanda.

The police captain discovered the robbery and managed to redirect passers-by onto the N2 highway near KwaMashu.

Police were also involved in a shootout with suspected CIT robbers in Camperdown in May.