KZN rocked by 3 CIT heists in a week

A police captain survived a hail of bullets from cash-in-transit robbers on the N2 highway northbound near Queen Nandi Drive. The road was closed for hours to allow ballistics evidence to be collected.

A police captain survived a hail of bullets from cash-in-transit robbers on the N2 highway northbound near Queen Nandi Drive. The road was closed for hours to allow ballistics evidence to be collected.

Published Jun 7, 2024


A cash-in-transit (CIT) robbery shut down the N2 highway northbound near Queen Nandi Drive for hours on Thursday as police cleared the backlogged traffic and secured the scene for ballistics evidence to be collected.

This comes after two CIT suspects were killed in a shoot-out with police and a third arrested on the Phoenix Highway, while a security guard was shot during an attempted CIT heist in the Durban CBD on Monday.

On Wednesday, the KwaZulu-Natal Directorate for Priority Crime Investigation (Hawks) arrested a 39-year-old suspect for possession of explosives believed to be destined for use in CIT robberies in Durban.

Provincial police spokesperson Colonel Robert Netshiunda said a police captain survived a hail of bullets from an unknown number of robbers just before the KwaMashu Highway offramp early on Thursday morning.

“An unknown number of suspects, who were travelling in multiple vehicles and targeting a cash delivery truck, without any notice opened fire at the police officer’s unmarked bakkie, which he was driving behind the money vehicle,” he said.

According to Netshiunda, the police fficer, who was on his way to an early operation in Inanda wearing his protective gear, returned fire, found his way out of the vehicle and took cover.

Netshiunda said the brazen criminals blew the truck open and fled the scene with an undisclosed amount of money.

He said the cash security guards were left unharmed, although they were robbed of their three firearms, one of which was a rifle.

Professor Nirmala Gopal from the Discipline of Criminology and Forensic Studies at the University of KwaZulu-Natal said the bold actions of the criminals were surprising given the robust security measures in the region.

National commissioner of the SAPS General Fannie Masemola has deployed more than 300 additional Public Order Policing (POP) members to the province to stabilise the region after the elections.

Gopal said that criminals might perceive increased police presence as mainly focused on potential political unrest, leading them to believe that traditional criminal activities are receiving less attention.

“The scarcity of legitimate job opportunities presents significant hardships for numerous residents in the province.

“However, it is highly improbable that CIT robbers fall into this demographic. These individuals are likely skilled criminals operating within an organised crime syndicate,” said Gopal.

Gopal said irrespective of their motives, these crimes further reinforce the perception of KZN as a region plagued by violence.

“Their ongoing ability to evade capture only heightens the region's susceptibility to future criminal activities,” she said, adding that political intervention was necessary to strengthen crime prevention efforts and address the issue of violent crime in the province.

Gareth Newham, head of the Justice and Violence Prevention Programme at the Institute for Security Studies, aid the criminals that undertake these crimes were highly organised and sophisticated.

“They often have inside knowledge from the cash-in-transit companies, they know what to target and then they plan their attack very carefully to make sure that the police are not around ...

“They also work very closely with corrupt police officers and are quite aware of where the police officers are going to be,” he said.

Newham said CIT robberies cannot be stopped by general police visibility, but rather by specialised investigative units with dedicated intelligence capabilities.

“There are not that many of them (CIT syndicates). There have been CIT heists in South Africa for many decades, long before democracy, they exist all over the world ... They occur in very wealthy countries, it’s not about poverty. These are usually quite wealthy people, they commit a few of these a year and steal large amounts of money,” he said.

KZN violence monitor Mary de Haas said the system of intelligence gathering has been going downhill for years.

“It’s supposed to start with police stations having dedicated crime intelligence people informing proactive policing and assisting detectives, and that system is just not functioning.”

De Haas questioned where the guns and ammunition were coming from and called for an inquiry to be conducted. She also called for an audit of gun shops.

“There has to be proper audits of all these people who sell guns and ammunition. I think that this is a priority because people live in fear in this country.”

The Mercury