Armed robbery at the local Spar

This morning, somewhere after 9.00, I was busy working in the garden, when I heard two loud cracks. They sounded like gunshots. After a short pause, there were three more loud cracks. Shortly thereafter, sirens started howling and wailing up and down the neighbouring streets. As this isn’t an entirely uncommon experience in Cape Town, although a bit unusual in our area, I thought that someone had perhaps shot at a robber attempting to break into a house, and that it’d be safest to stay at home for a while.

Richard and his sister had left early to conquer Table Mountain from Kirstenbosch Botanical Gardens side, up via Skeleton Gorge, past the Hely Hutchinson Dam, and down via Nursery Ravine. When hubby phoned from the top of the mountain, he sounded a little the worse for wear and definitely in need of a reward for chaperoning Sussie up the mountain, so I figured I’d go to the Spar to buy a double-packet of Hot Cross Buns…. it being Easter Sunday, after all.

When I dropped off last night’s DVD at the video store, the young woman behind the counter was looking very anxious. I asked whether she was okay. She said there’d been an armed robbery at the Spar about an hour or two ago.

MY Spar?

MY neighbourhood Spar, where the staff always have a friendly smile, and where, during power failures, they cheerfully walk around the shelves with you, candle in hand, to help you find stuff?

Where admittedly the prices are disproportionately high, but at least they are open every day, including public holidays, until 9pm at night, so that you are always assured of fresh milk and bread?

When I walked in, the place was full of customers, all queueing patiently and talking quietly to each other. There was a sombre mood, and you could sense that something had happened. I chose some fruit and took it to the scales to have it weighed; the friendly black man there was clearly very agitated, so I asked if he was okay.

He was so upset and shaking so much, that he couldn’t give me a clear timeline of the incident, so my details are a bit sketchy. I suppose that’s pretty normal if you’ve just had a gun shoved in your face. From what I could figure out, there were four baddies – two waiting in a get-away vehicle outside, and two inside.

He had been standing next to the fruit and veggies, when he saw a man in a Spar uniform, waving around a gun, standing by the entrance, just a metre away. Apparently an accomplice was also loitering somewhere between the shelves. One of the Spar’s security guards and one of the owners/managers had tackled the gunman, trying to wrestle the gun out of his hand, and shots were fired. The guard had been shot on the right side, near the shoulder blade and arm, and he was rushed him to the nearby Vincent Pallotti Hospital where he is now in a critical condition.

Our local radio station (Cape Talk) seems to have sent someone around to do interviews, and put up the following little snippet in the headline news, but I don’t think they got all their facts straight.

“A Pinelands Spar employee is recovering in Vincent Palotti Hospital following a shooting incident at the store earlier today.

Police say four armed suspects entered the supermarket shortly after 9:00 this morning, and attempted to steal the weekend’s takings. One of the suspects fired two shots at an employee before the gang fled on foot, empty handed.

Forensic investigators combed the scene of the attempted robbery in Pinelands this morning. The Pinelands Spar was closed shortly after the incident. An eyewitness heard gunshots and saw a man running away with a gun in his hand. The man was wearing a Spar uniform. It is suspected the man is a Spar employee.

 A resident, who lives above the Pinelands Spar, says waking up to a robbery on Easter Sunday wasn’t the best way to start the day.” (news on Cape Talk radio)

P.S. 16h30:

This afternoon, Richard and I went for a walk to Central Square to pick up tonight’s DVD. There we ran into Audrey, the wife of the local BSR (Body Stress Release) practitioner I go to. She was looking a bit on edge, and mentioned that she had been there during the robbery.

She said that she had just arrived at the store and wanted to walk in, when she saw three men wrestling around on the floor just inside the entrance. It looked really serious, so she took a few steps back, and stopped another customer from walking in. She also noticed that there was a bakkie with two men in it standing in the parking bay right next to the entrance.

A split-second later, two shots were fired, and the bad guy ran out of the shop, towards her, followed by another one. She leapt out of the way, diving onto the ground and scraping her legs in the process. Another split-second later, the security guard who’d been fighting the gunman ran out of the store and pushed her out of the way. Three more shots were fired by the gunman, hitting the security guard – she said it was so close that she could smell the gunpowder. They jumped into the bakkie and sped off. The security guard was lying in a pool of blood right next to her, and the gun had somehow ended up lying near her feet.

&*(%!

Her story has really unsettled me.

This could have so easily happened to any one of the people I love.

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