Mall robbery an ‘inside job’

Fikile Mbalula

Police Minister Fikile Mbalula says that police are aware that the attempted armed robbery which left a private security guard and a suspect shot dead at Nyanga Junction Shopping Centre was an “inside job”.

“Criminals were given important intelligence about what is happening with regards to the allocation of resources and in the country which was destined for pensioners,” said Mr Mbalula.

He was addressing the media during a press conference at the centre on Tuesday April 2, following the incident in which 10 staff members and Shoprite supermarket manager were held hostage in a 12-hour stand-off between police and the robbers.

Mr Mbalula said the suspects were after the grant money destined for beneficiaries.

“They killed an innocent security guard who did nothing but work for his family. The police were there to make sure that all the people that were here were safe and protected.I am happy that the manager and 10 people were all released unharmed owing to police protection,” he said.

“Those boys who were trying criminality were too weak for the task force. They must pray to God that they came out here alive because we will never allow them to kill our people and terrorise the nation.

“All our forces are out to defend the citizens of South Africa within the prescripts of the law. It is not unconstitutional, what I am saying. It is the law. We must deal with each crime according to its merits and yesterday (Monday May 1) we were dealing with such dangerous criminals,” said Mr Mbalula.

He said incidents such as the robbery would happen despite the fact that police should have been ready as there was going to be money dispatched to the centre.

“We do not need to react. We should have been on guard. We should have known that criminals do not sleep and criminals will chase money wherever it manifests itself. We do not need to react. We need to sharpen our machinery in relation to crime prevention,” he said.

Security guard Patrick Castle, 28, died in hospital after he had undergone surgery.

The security company’s operations manager, Corne Vermeulen, said Mr Castle was wounded in his left arm and leg and was in surgery for a long time.

Police spokesperson Captain Noloyiso Rwexana said the suspects in the robbery attempt at the shopping centre would face a further murder charge in the wake of Mr Castle’s death.

“A full-scale investigation is still under way and our forensic teams concluded their work at the scene this morning. Our investigation is ongoing and no further information can be given at this time relating to the suspects,” she said.