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Two cigarette van heists thwarted: Phiyega

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Two cigarette vehicle heists on opposite ends of the country were thwarted on Wednesday. Three armed men were arrested. National police commissioner General Riah Phiyega said on Wednesday that the victories were the result of hard work by special task teams.

Two men were nabbed in connection with a robbery in Muizenberg, Cape Town, which occurred at about 11:00. The duo was allegedly part of a gang of four suspects who targeted a cigarette van. They were arrested by the Flying Squad while trying to escape via Baden Powell Drive, Phiyega said. The other two suspects were believed to have been dropped off elsewhere before officers spotted the getaway car.

Another heist was foiled in Gauteng, she said.

“In Gauteng earlier today, six suspects were arrested by the K9 Unit after a car chase and shoot-out following the robbery of a British American Tobacco vehicle in Klerksdorp,” said Phiyega.

“One of the suspects was wounded and is presently under [police] guard in hospital.”

Phiyega said she was convinced the use of task teams to fight organised crime, particularly syndicates involved in cigarette van heists and mall robberies, were hitting criminals hard.

Since the establishment of the cigarette van task team two years ago, 359 suspects had been arrested while 34 vehicles, 25 guns, and 12 000 cartons of cigarettes had been seized.

In addition, Phiyega said, more than 30 people belonging to three different gangs linked to mall robberies in the Western Cape and Gauteng had been arrested. Cellphone shops were predominantly the targets during these robberies. News24

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