Two men and a woman have been arrested for allegedly committing two mall robberies last week in Gauteng, police said on Tuesday.
“The three suspects … were arrested in Yeoville, Johannesburg in a crime intelligence-driven operation that started late on Thursday night and carried on into the early hours of Friday morning,” said Lt-Gen Solomon Makgale.
“When they were arrested, the 30-year-old woman had three unlicensed firearms and several rounds of live ammunition in her possession. She is reportedly the keeper of the arms and ammunition for this gang.”
Apart from being linked to the two mall robberies, police believed the three were part of a larger gang, with police searching for other members.
On Friday, Lt-Gen Lesetja Mothiba said that around 1.30pm a group of people entered a Telkom store at the Irene Mall in Centurion pretending to be shoppers.
When the manager of the store attempted to stop the group from entering the store with the trolley they were pushing they threatened him with a firearm.
“The suspects then demanded keys to the safe and took cellular phones and cash,” said Mothiba. “The suspects fired shots before fleeing in two vehicles — a Quantum kombi and an Audi A4.”
The Audi, which was hijacked in Secunda, Mpumalanga, in June, had been recovered. “The Audi was recovered when police later cornered one suspect on Olifantsfontein Road [in Midrand],” said Mothiba.
Two of the cellphones stolen were also recovered.
The other robbery occurred on Wednesday in the Vaal, south of Johannesburg.
The three’s arrest also follows the arrest of four people in Table View, Cape Town on Friday, near a cellular shop.
The four allegedly had illegal firearms in their possession, and their involvement in other armed robberies was being investigated.
Makgale said: “The latest arrests bring to 30 the total number of people arrested in connection with mall robberies in Gauteng and the Western Cape.
“On the previous Friday, the police’s swift response led to the arrest of six men immediately after they had robbed a Vodacom shop in the Centurion Mall.”
During the arrest, police recovered three firearms and two bags full of cellular phones.
Police strongly believed the robbers were connected to the spate of mall robberies around the country.
Makgale appealed to the management of malls to increase security, especially around inner perimeters, and to the public to contact police if they had information on any mall robberies or other crimes. — Sapa