Shootout at Qwaqwa’s Mandela Park Shopping Centre


A shootout between police and about ten alleged ATM robbers took place early on Friday morning at the Mandela Park Shopping Centre in Phuthaditjhaba. Free State Hawks spokesperson, Captain S’fiso Nyakane, says the robbers also held several security personnel and the manager of the Qwaqwa Community Radio Station hostage during the incident. Nyakane says the men gained entry to the shopping centre by cutting the fence. They then took the security personnel hostage. A presenter at the radio station saw what happened and broadcast the event live on air. The manager of the radio station also went to investigate and was taken hostage. Nyakane says when police arrived at the scene a shootout ensued. He says one police officer was shot in the leg. The suspects fled the scene with a police vehicle as well as the radio station manager’s Toyota Corolla. Police said the vehicles were abandoned a few kilometers away from the scene. Nyakane says the preliminary investigation has found that the gang was allegedly planning to bomb the Standard Bank ATM at the centre. AK-47 rifle and 9mm cartridges were recovered on the scene. No arrests have been made and the investigation continues. The wounded policeman was taken to a local hospital and is in a stable condition. Police have asked that anyone with information should call the Crime Stop Number 08600 10111 or contact their nearest police. –

André Grobler / Bloemfontein Courant