Deceased KZN heist suspects pretended to be in construction

Police believe that the four cash-in-transit suspects killed on Thursday morning in KwaZulu-Natal masqueraded as construction workers.

This is according to KwaZulu-Natal police boss, Lieutenant-General Nhanhla Mkhwanazi, following a gun battle after police rounded off six men in two separate incidents.

The gun-toting individuals are suspected to have run an extortion ring and were allegedly involved in a series of cash-in-transit robberies across the province.

Early-morning gun battle

Police cornered and killed the suspects in Cato Ridge, near KwaXimba, in the early hours of Thursday morning.

The suspects were believed to be masterminds in the planning of cash-in-transit robberies.

The police swooped on four men, who apparently, upon seeing the strong police contingent, fired a volley of shots aimed at law enforcement, who retaliated by killing them instantly.

According to Mkhwanazi, the suspects were on the radar of the police for a long time. They were man-marked, and their movements were being followed.

Mkhwanazi said the men had taken refuge in one of the cottages near Cato Ridge, using it as a hideout for their nefarious activities.

He said he believes the suspects were lying low, masquerading as construction workers.

“We are talking about wanted, hardened criminals. They shoot and kill; they don’t negotiate,” Mkhwanazi said.

“It is known that people who live in the rental cottages are construction workers, and some live with their families.”

Firearms recovered

He further explained that the residents were terrified when they received information from the police that they had been living among wanted felons.

“It was like living with a snake in the house because other residents had no idea that they were living with dangerous criminals.

“We always encourage the renting business to know the profile of their tenants,” Mkhwanazi cautioned.

High-calibre firearms were also recovered from the suspects.

It also emerged that one of the suspects had been recently involved in a cash-in-transit robbery in his home town of eMpangeni in northern KwaZulu-Natal.

In another gun battle, a police multi-disciplinary team involving the Hawks, pounced on two suspects in Klaarwater hostel near Durban.

The men are believed to have refused to surrender and instead fired shots at the police, who wasted no time taking them down. Guns were also recovered at the scene.

KwaZulu-Natal police spokesperson, Brigadier Jay Naicker, said: “Two suspects were shot and fatally wounded during the shootout. Police recovered two firearms.”

Breeding ground for assassins

The two suspects were allegedly extorting money from businesses, mainly spaza shops and local taverns, in what has become known as a protection fee.

A number of suspects have been killed in KwaZulu-Natal following an exchange of fire with police in recent months.

The province is considered the breeding ground for dangerous assassins. It is also notorious for political killings and assassinations in the volatile taxi industry.

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