Seventy-one AK47 cartridges were recovered following a failed cash-in-transit heist in Mpumalanga on Wednesday afternoon.
Wahl Bartmann, chief executive officer of Fidelity Services Group, said four vehicles and 15 suspects were involved in the incident in which a Fidelity cash van was attacked just outside Kabokweni, while on its way to White River.
A tactical support unit (TSU) was travelling about 80 metres behind the main van.
Bartmann said the first attack was on the support vehicle and was carried out by about five heavily armed suspects in a Ford Ranger.
They approached from behind and opened fire on the support vehicle.
“Our crews returned fire from their gun ports inside the vehicle. While this was happening, our cash van came under heavy fire from an additional group of approximately three suspects waiting on the side of the road in a Ford Fiesta. They also started shooting at our support vehicle.
“Our officers in the support vehicle managed to stop about 20 metres further up the hill and blockaded the road so the cash van could continue. They continued returning fire at both [of the] suspects’ vehicles, managing to wound one suspect in the crossfire.
“The suspects in the Ford Ranger fled and the suspects in the Ford Fiesta then managed to hijack a VW Polo and sped off. Fortunately, the driver had car tracking and managed to activate the tracking. While the attacks were being defended at the bottom of the hill, the cash van was again attacked, this time by a double-cab Ford with approximately four suspects and a VW Golf with approximately three suspects.”
Bartmann said the two groups were working together.
“The suspects in the double-cab Ford Ranger rammed the cash van from the back trying to disable our vehicle and at the same time, the van came under heavy fire from the suspects in the Golf.
“Our officers in our cash van managed to return fire and defend the assets. Our driver sustained two gunshot wounds in the process but fortunately, they were just surface wounds and he is stable.”
Bartmann said the remaining suspects scrambled into the VW Golf and sped off. No money was taken.
“It is concerning to see the extreme pressure these suspects are placing our officers under. Our support vehicle took about 50 AK47 rounds and our cash van another 30 or so rounds. We are so proud of the way our officers managed the situation in a highly stressful and dangerous situation.”
The case was handed over to police who were on the scene with their forensic units to take fingerprints and DNA samples.