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‘They started the war,’ says police chief Masemola after 18 gang suspects killed in 90-minute Makhado gun battle

‘They started the war,’ says police chief Masemola after 18 gang suspects killed in 90-minute Makhado gun battle
At least 18 suspected members of a gang who were allegedly planning to commit an armed robbery on a cash depot were killed in a shootout with police in Makhado, Limpopo, on Friday, 1 September 2023. Police said they had been tracing the suspects for months and pounced on their hideout on Friday afternoon. The suspects allegedly opened fire on the police, which led to a 90-minute shootout. (Photos: Lucas Ledwaba / Mukurukuru Media)

A lunch-time shootout ensued between suspected robbers and police in a double-storey house in Makhado, Limpopo, on Friday, resulting in the deaths of 18 criminal suspects and the injury of an officer.

A 90-minute gun battle between police and a suspected gang of heavily armed robbers left 18 gang members dead and one police officer injured in a residential area in Makhado in Limpopo.

Speaking from the scene of a bloody gun battle in Alti Villas in Limpopo, National Police Commissioner General Fannie Masemola told media that police had been tracking down the gang in a months-long joint operation by specialist units.

Masemola said police pounced on the gang who were hiding in a house in the wealthy Makhado suburb at about 1pm on Friday afternoon.

Masemola said the gang opened fire on police with high-calibre rifles.

Police then returned fire, which resulted in a shootout that lasted 90 minutes.

The suspected gang was hiding in a double-storey house in a quiet suburban street when police pounced.

“They started the war,” said Masemola, speaking about 100m from the house where the suspected gang members were shot dead.

Masemola said a police officer was shot in the leg in the ensuing shootout. The officer, who was said to have lost a lot of blood, was taken to hospital.

The scene of the shootout in Makhado. Police have allegedly broken the back of a syndicate possibly responsible for a number of cash-in-transit heists in Limpopo, Mpumalanga and Gauteng. (Photo: Supplied)

Masemola said 16 men and two women were killed in the shootout.

He said the suspects had used rifles during the shootout with police.

Hawks General Godfrey Lebeya said the suspected gang members were found in possession of explosives similar to those that have been previously used in explosions during the commission of crimes.

Lebeya said the Hawks have been part of a joint investigation since early this year.

He said, as part of the operation, police had also raided a house in Thohoyandou, about 70km from the scene of the shootout in Makhado.

There police arrested four suspects who are allegedly linked to the slain gang members.

Masemola said a police investigation had revealed that the gang members were planning to rob a cash depot in Limpopo.

Lebeya couldn’t say if the gang was linked to the recent spate of armed robberies in the Vhembe area, which has seen businesses and ATMs targeted in robberies.

The house in which the suspects were shot is also a double-storey consisting of a butterfly-style roofing with palm trees in the front. (Photo: Supplied)

Masemola revealed that the house in which the suspects were killed was owned by a Zimbabwean national.

However, Lebeya wouldn’t be drawn into revealing whether the suspects were part of an international or cross-border crime syndicate, saying investigations to that effect are continuing.

Stunned residents of the suburb, which comprises newly built double-storey mansions and those still being built, watched in silence as police forensic officers processed the crime scene.

The house in which the suspects were shot is also a double-storey consisting of a butterfly-style roofing with palm trees in the front.

There were no bodies of the victims visible to the public.

Masemola said although the shootout took place in a residential area, they had not received any report of civilian injuries. – DM/Mukurukuru Media 


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