Shootout with gang suspected of robbing armored vans leaves 18 people dead

In a rural northern region of South Africa, a fierce shootout between police and a gang suspected of robbing armored vans resulted in the deaths of 16 men and two women on Friday. The incident unfolded when officers approached a building where the gang was operating, prompting the suspects to open fire. In response, the police returned fire, ultimately killing all 18 suspects. One police officer sustained injuries during the exchange. Additionally, four other suspects were apprehended at a separate location.

The shootout took place in the Makhado municipality of the Limpopo province. Top police officials were present at the scene, including the national commissioner of police, the deputy commissioner, and the head of the elite Hawks unit.

The targeted gang had been under surveillance for several days and was believed to be involved in robbing armored vans used for transporting cash from banks. Cash-in-transit heists are a prevalent and often violent crime in South Africa, typically carried out by heavily armed criminals. The gang in question was suspected of orchestrating heists in at least three provinces, according to the police.

During the operation, seven automatic rifles and ten vehicles, including high-performance sports cars, were seized by the authorities. The successful takedown of this gang marks a significant victory in the ongoing battle against cash-in-transit heists in the country.

The shootout came during an already devastating time in South Africa. Just one day before the deadly shootout, a fire in a rundown apartment complex in Johannesburg claimed the lives of at least 74 people.