Suspects dressed as cops rob EL store, shots fired at second shop

Image: 123rf.com/krisonealphotography

Two crowded supermarkets in downtown East London came under attack from gunmen when a shopper was shot and wounded in one store, and at another, a gang of police impostors robbed the store of R600,000 in cash.

Shoprite and Rhino Cash & Carry, which are surrounded by taxi ranks, are 100m apart.

On Thursday afternoon, five armed suspects dressed as police officers  entered Rhino Cash & Carry, and in a scene reminiscent of the movie Oceans 11, drew weapons and robbed the store.

The gang escaped with the store’s takings.

Duncan Village Community Police Forum chairperson Ludumo Salman reported on the forum’s Facebook page that the suspects had stolen between R300,000 to R600,000.

However, Eastern Cape provincial police spokesperson Capt Khaya Tonjeni refused to divulge how much money had been taken, and only that an “undisclosed” amount had been stolen.

The provincial organised crime unit was investigating the case, he said.

Rhino Cash & Carry assistant store manager Shaun Jacobi would only say: “It was a large amount of money that is all I can say. None of my employees were harmed during the robbery.”

Jacobi said 90 employees were on duty when the store was robbed.

The Dispatch visited the store on Friday morning. Five heavily armed security officers were on guard at the door.

Inside it was business as usual, with plenty of customers.

Jacobi said: “I don’t know all the specifics but I was informed by our regional risk and safety manager that the police were here very quickly yesterday.

“They were on the ball. There were some big boys [police brass] here and they were concerned. We are still waiting for feedback from them.”

Jacobi called for increased police patrols around shopping centres “at this time of the year because it’s going to get very dangerous”.

Salman took a slightly different line. He expressed gratitude that the robbers had behaved like “gentlemen” and had committed the robbery in a “professional” way and did not kill or harm anyone.

“No injuries were reported. Money can be replaced,” Salman said on Facebook.

Tonjeni said the suspects forced the store’s 34-year-old manger to open a cash office at gunpoint.

“The complainant [store manager] and two staff members were forced to place cash that was on the table into a cardboard box. An undisclosed amount of money was taken,” said Tonjeni.

Tonjeni said the gang fled in a white Toyota Corolla sedan.

“The identity of the suspects is unknown.

“Police are appealing to anyone with information to share it anonymously with Brigadier Dudu Ngculu on 082-301-7762. All correspondence will be treated confidentially.”

At Shoprite, on Black Friday morning, shopping was interrupted for few minutes after two gunshots were fired inside the store.

Staff at the store, who may not be identified as they are not authorised to talk to the media, said the incident was a street fight that had spilt over into the store.

The Dispatch was told by a witness, Zina Constable, 26, that panic-stricken shoppers had rushed out of the store when gunshots rang out.

“I lost my shoes when everyone ran,” she said.

“I heard two gunshots and everyone left their trolleys. We all forced our way to the exit door. It was pandemonium.  People were tripping over each other.”

Shoprite branch manager, Philip Gerber, declined to comment, while police spokesperson Captain Hazel Mqala said she would inform the Dispatch of the details, which were not received by deadline.

malibongwed@dispatch.co.za


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