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Police search for gang suspected of plotting violent crimes after shoot-out in Lombardy East

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South African Police Service (SAPS) officers in Johannesburg are searching for several suspects after a shoot-out between police and a gang believed to be plotting serious violent criminal acts.

Police have recovered two AK-47 rifles with loaded magazines, an R-1 rifle with two loaded magazines, and two loaded pistols, as well as 11 suspected stolen cars at a house in Lombardy East near Alexandra in Johannesburg, Gauteng SAPS spokesperson Captain Mavela Masondo said in a statement.

“On Friday morning at approximately 07h30, police from the local police station were conducting routine patrols when they observed a suspicious white Toyota Quest with three occupants.

“The members then noticed a firearm on one of the occupants who alighted from the car, and approached to search the man. It is alleged that the armed suspect then drew his firearm and fired shots at the police.

“An unconfirmed number of armed men are reported to have emerged from a nearby house and a shoot-out between the police and the suspects ensued. The members arrested one suspect while the others fled on foot and others in two vehicles,” Masondo said.

Upon searching the house and a cottage, police found two AK-47 rifles, an R-1 rifle, two pistols, magazines loaded with ammunition of different calibres, a car jamming device, hand gloves, and “other robbery implements”.

“Inside the yard were 10 vehicles and an 11th vehicle was outside. Three of the cars, a BMW, a Mercedes Benz, and an Audi A4, came positive as hijacked in Sunnyside, Daveyton, and KwaMhlanga in Mpumalanga province.”

The cars were suspected to be for use as getaway cars during the commission of the crime. Preliminary evidence suggested that the suspects were “in the middle of plotting to commit an aggravated crime before they were disturbed by the police”.

Police had launched a search for the suspects that escaped while an investigation was underway to establish if the arrested suspect and the weapons could be linked to other crimes, Masondo said.

Gauteng police commissioner Lt-Gen Elias Mawela lauded the officers “who were observant and vigilant during their patrol”.

“It is clear that these suspects were in a meeting, conspiring to commit a serious and violent crime that could have resulted in injuries and/or fatalities of innocent citizens.

“In the past few weeks, police in Gauteng have foiled serious robberies, recovered high calibre firearms where suspects have succumbed to injuries during shoot-outs with law enforcement [officers]. This is an indication that police in the province are on high alert to protect the properties and lives of the citizens,” Mawela said.

-African News Agency (ANA)

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