Date:19 November 2016 - By: Elmon Tshikhudo
Drama at the Eastgate Shopping Centre in Thohoyandou on Saturday was like a scene from a Hollywood action movie.
Four brazen robbers, two standing guard outside and two entering a business premises, held up the owner of a business and robbed him of R20 000, an expensive Samsung phone and also demanded the keys to his white BMW. Before speeding off in the businessman's car, the robbers fired shots wildly, with weekend shoppers running in different directions, but the brave businessman, aged 49, chased after the robbers.
The incident happened at about 11:00 at the busy shopping centre.
After a high-speed chase by the police, who chased them for nearly 10 kilometres, the robbers realized they stood no chance, abandoned the BMW and fled on foot. About an hour after the incident, some of the robbers, who were driving a black BMW believed to be their getaway car, robbed a local villager of his VW Polo, which they later dumped at the nearby Dzwerani.
The police were still combing the scene when a message came through about unknown people being attacked at Mashawana, some five kilometres from Thohoyandou. The police then found the abandoned vehicle at Mashawana.
A resident of the village said the men passed via their village, but residents became suspicious. "Noticing that we were about to close in on them, one of them fired shots in the air. This did not stop the residents from pursuing them. They threw the gun away and we managed to apprehend one of them. Two others ran into the mountains. We caught another guy some kilometres away at the Luvuvhu River," said the resident, who preferred anonymity.
He added that the other robber managed to elude his pursuers in the dense bushes. A police helicopter was also summoned to help in the search, but the man was not found. "We joined the chase, because we are tired of crime. Not long ago, robbers from outside the village came and robbed a businessman here. One of them did not get away as he was beaten to death. We are teaching these robbers that our area is not a hunting ground for crime and if they do come here, they do so at their own risk, “said the man.
Thohoyandou police spokesperson Lt Col Mashudu Malelo said they had arrested two alleged robbers with the help of the community. "They have been hospitalised and are under police guard after being assaulted by members of the community. We opened business robbery charges and the suspects will appear in court as soon as they are fit to do so," he said.
Malelo further warned would-be criminals that the community was sick of crime and that their safety would be at risk if they dared commit a crime. He further warned residents not to take the law into their own hands and attack suspects of crime, but rather to hand them to the police.
The badly injured alleged robber is taken to a waiting police van after being captured by residents.
Elmon Tshikhudo started off as a photographer. He developed an interest in writing and started submitting articles to local as well as national publications. He became part of the Limpopo Mirror family in 2005 and has since been a familiar name among the newspaper's readers.