Five men who trade at the corner of Atlas and North Rand roads in Boksburg still cannot believe they survived the violent cash-in-transit heist that took place on Thursday morning.
The men‚ who did not want their names and pictures used‚ told TimesLIVE about what was supposed to be an ordinary day on the job for them.
“All of us were sitting at the corner and sorting out our stock for the day. We had not started selling directly to motorists at the intersection. Then we heard something that sounded like firecrackers. We did not take it seriously. But then the sound was intense and we realised that it was gunshots.
“Before we could think of anything‚ I heard one of our guys shouting ‘ibhemile’ [things are bad]. I thought he meant that it is the metro police but he shouted more saying it is gunfight. Moments later‚ we saw one of the security guards running for his life. It was at that time that we realised things were really bad. We all ran and hid ourselves under the Renault cars across the road.
“As we were crossing the road‚ we could see that the security [guard] was running in a different direction [along North Rand Road]. I heard him scream loudly. I think it was the time they shot him‚” said one of the men.
The man said that while they were hiding under the car that they heard two big bangs. The five spent “between half an hour and an hour” under the cars as the gun fight continued.
“It was even difficult to look and see what was happening because of the gun sounds we were hearing. All I was able to see was the [Landrover] Discovery car that these guys [were using‚] which was moving around the intersection‚” the man explained.
He believes it was a well-planned attack on the cash vans.
“While we were still sorting out our stock‚ there was a man who was moving up and down Atlas [Road] strangely. He was not one of us and is not one of the scrap collectors in the neighbourhood. He was walking up and down the spot where the vans were hit. But what amazed me is that when the shooting happened‚ he was nowhere to be found‚” he explained.
He added: “I still don’t know what would have happened if the shooting had started when we were already at the intersection. We could have been dead.”
After the criminals fled‚ he said some of the scrap collectors helped themselves to the leftover cash.
“I could not touch. It is blood money and it brings bad luck‚” he said.
Workers who were painting nearby apartments also had to run and hide during the bullet exchange. The same was done by workers at a filling station nearby‚ which still has bullet marks on its walls.
Police said the heist involved 10 men in four vehicles cornering two G4S cash vans. They exchanged fire with the guards and then used explosives to blow up the two vans. One of the four guards was shot in the leg while another suffered minor head injuries.
Police responded quickly and gave chase in a helicopter and vehicles on the ground. Some of the men were caught at the George Goch hostel in Johannesburg.