Armed gang of 5 rob Mthatha Spar of R1m
The heist happened before 7am and was over in 5 minutes
Eastern Cape police are hunting for five men, two armed with guns, who robbed the Madeira Superspar of R1m in Mthatha before speeding off in a hijacked Toyota Avanza and a Nissan 1400 bakkie.
They forced entry through a back door used by employees at 6.45am on Monday before demanding money from five women cashiers at the cash office, said store manager Mark Clarke.
The store is one of 14 stores owned by the Spargs Group in the Eastern Cape, said Clarke.
“They came in before the shop had opened, forcing their way through the separate entrance for staff.
“There were three guys, one armed with a pistol. The safe and the cash office are adjoining. They took money from the safe and the petty cash.”
Clarke said the robbery took five minutes.
“They ran out the shop through the same entrance. They used two cars waiting outside for them, one a white Nissan botsotso and the other a metallic green Avanza, and drove off in the direction of Ngangelizwe township.”
Clarke said police and the store's security were quick to respond to the alarm.
“They came here to take fingerprints and the investigation is ongoing. They are following up leads. We are happy with the investigation.”
Clarke said: “They knew everything and had obviously studied the place because they knew about the staff entrance and where the safe was and the cash office.”
Clarke said a large portion of the money stolen was generated over the busy month-end. “They knew the weekend was busy.” Clarke said the store had been robbed three times in the last decade.
Mthatha police spokesperson Captain Dineo Koena said the Avanza used by the robbers was hijacked.
“We are looking for five guys in total, two of them with guns. No shots were fired.”
In September, the Dispatch reported on a Mafia-like scamming syndicate that was targeting ATMs near the major Eastern Cape retailer’s store entrances.
Tourists were seen as prey, but anyone, even the poorest gogo was a target, said three directors of the company that owns the stores, Western Gruppe, and the managing director of their security company, in an in-depth interview.
Western Gruppe owns 29 outlets – 14 Spars and 15 Tops stores in the province.
They said a gang was operating across the province, from Mthatha to Port Elizabeth and all the towns between.
They, and some of their employees, had received death threats for blowing the whistle on the highly organised syndicate.
Based on their in-store information, private investigations and CCTV camera footage, the directors believed the mobsters were raking in hundreds of thousands of rands, sometimes in just one day.
They believe the syndicate used sophisticated machinery to capture card information, including pin numbers being punched into ATMs, and relay it via routers to laptops being operated by crooks sitting in rented cars nearby.
The group owns five stores in Mthatha, seven in East London, and one each in Port Elizabeth and Butterworth.
But the directors said that, based on discussions with other retailers in the province, they believed the syndicate was operating at many different stores and malls across other cities in South Africa too...