Bullets fly in mall shoot-out (shortened)

By Jacques Breytenbach and Graeme Hosken

Five gunmen, armed with an AK-47 rifle and pistols opened fire in the
crowded Kolonnade Shopping Centre (Pretoria) yesterday morning after
storming a jewellery store.

The gang had moments before held up three security guards and assaulted
two NWJ staff members, including a pregnant woman.

They then fled the store with bags of jewellery, opening fire on a Mugg
& Bean customer, who had opened fire on them as they tried to escape
through the shopping centre's parking lot.

While customers sought cover as the gunmen and the customer exchanged
fire, the robbers tried to escape in a black Volvo, which, it was later
discovered, had been hijacked in Johannesburg in *2006*.

The robbers were forced to abandon their car when the driver crashed
into a Nissan Tiida. While four of the gunmen hijacked a Ford Focus from
a motorist outside the centre, the fifth was arrested by guards as he
ran away.

The suspects abandoned the Ford in Mayville when police units boxed them
in. The men were caught as they tried to escape through thick bushes.

Mugg & Bean manager Catha Beukes said that when the first shots rang out
and security guards ran past, screaming at them to close their stores,
they had immediately locked their doors.

Clara Williams, who works in a hair salon opposite the NWJ store, said
working in the mall had added a lot of stress to her life.

"Something small, like hearing an object fall, can make you think a
gunfight between police and robbers has broken out somewhere in the
mall. Everybody is traumatised by the thought of what might happen
next," Williams said.

Kobus Kruger, Kolonnade's operations manager, said: "With all the
robberies at malls in the past couple of months, Kolonnade has put extra
security measures in place to ensure the safety of its staff and shoppers."

Consumer Goods Council of South Africa spokesman Michael Broughton said
attacks on shopping malls had not decreased despite efforts to combat them.

"The need for money is making the robbers desperate and forcing them to
step up their operations."

Police had arrested three suspects and recovered two pistols, an AK-47
and jewellery.


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