N2 shootout between police and armed suspects
THOUSANDS of motorists were trapped in traffic until late yesterday evening after a shootout between police and suspects which shut the N2 freeway and gridlocked Durban and surrounds.
Last night police spokesperson Brigadier Jay Naicker said forensic investigators were still at the scene and all five suspects involved in the chase and shooting were accounted for, with three dead and two arrested.
“Three weapons were found at the scene but we are not discounting that weapons could have been discarded in the bush,” said Naidoo.
The chase along the freeway started after police were tipped-off the suspects were on their way to commit a robbery.
Police spotted the Mercedes-Benz containing five suspects around midday and verified the car had been hijacked from Reservoir Hills.
As the cars raced along the freeway, the gang opened fire on the police vehicle as it closed in on them.
The Mercedes collided with the police vehicle and both vehicles rolled.
Police confirmed they had opened fire on the suspects. Two were killed. A third was arrested at the crash scene and two others ran into the bush.
A woman in her sixties sustained moderate injuries when her car was hit. She was taken to hospital.
A witness at the scene, Brad Gardiner, said last night: “I was coming back from a meeting in uMhlanga Rocks, not really paying much attention to what was going on around me. Then about 600m in front of me, I saw dust. I didn’t see the cars take off and land, just dust and people running. I was still quite a way back and we now know what was happening.
“There was a guy with gloves on his hands, he was a bit buggered up… then an ambulance tried to get through… the cops were jumping the barrier, chasing the guys. A couple of other unmarked cars pulled up next to me. They got out, they were big chaps... there was a lot of action. People stopped to try to help. Guys (police) on the scene were telling people to get back into their cars and move along. I didn’t see the shots, I was just out of reach, it was all so quick,” he said.
Police units from across the city, including the Hawks, National Intervention Unit (NIU) and K9 Dog Unit, converged on the scene.
The N2 was closed on both sides as police tracked the two suspects in the bush, resulting in a massive traffic back-up across Durban as motorists battled to find alternative routes home for the weekend.
In the early evening, police confirmed that the two remaining suspects had been found. One had died from suspected injuries, while the second man was arrested.
Police remained tightlipped last night as to the suspected destination of the gang of armed men.
Brigadier Naicker confirmed that two police officers had been injured in the incident.
The freeway was opened at about 6pm.