Mpumalanga police arrested nine suspects – including a police officer – following the robbery of a supermarket in Bethal during which a security guard was shot and wounded.
Police spokesperson Colonel Brigadier Leonard Hlathi said the arrests took place shortly after the suspects, aged between 27 and 39, and armed with pistols and rifles, allegedly accosted staff at a local supermarket soon after opening at 7am on Tuesday.
“The suspects ordered everyone to lie down,” Hlathi said. “A security guard was shot on the upper body in the process and the suspects started searching everyone, taking items of an undisclosed value before fleeing the scene.”
Police were alerted and the 72-hour activation plan put in motion, leading to the subsequent tracing of the suspects to a local guesthouse, where they had rendezvoused after allegedly having committed the crime.
“When the police arrived, the suspects started shooting at them and they retaliated, leading to two of the suspects being shot and injured. The suspects were soon arrested and two vehicles, an AK47 rifle with live ammunition as well as a 9mm pistol were confiscated.”
Among the arrested suspects is a police constable stationed at the neighbouring Mzinoni police station where he worked as a detective.
The suspects will appear at an unspecified magistrate’s court on Thursday, facing charges of business robbery, attempted murder, and unlawful possession of firearms and ammunition.
Provincial Commissioner Lieutenant General Mondli Zuma lauded members from the Bethal police station, together with the Secunda Cluster Crime Intelligence, for the swift arrests.
“The fact that one of the suspects is a police officer, is an indication that the SAPS is determined to eliminate rogue members from within,” said Zuma.