Man cheats death as thugs hit car

A MOTORIST narrowly missed death after he was involved in a head-on collision with armed robbers fleeing bullets from SAPS officers in Pretoria east yesterday morning.

Sipho Matlala was sitting in his VW Polo Vivo, waiting for the green light at the corner of De Villebois Mareuil and Hesketh drives, when a black Mercedes-Benz rammed into his car after the driver lost control.

The occupants of the Mercedes-Benz had been involved in a shoot-out with police, who had been tailing it in a high-speed chase after an attempted robbery at a jewellery shop in Woodlands Boulevard Mall in Garsfontein.

The driver of the vehicle is said to have lost control and rammed into the front of the Polo Vivo, somehow leaving Matlala completely unharmed.

An ambulance rushed to the scene to treat him, but he was found to have no injuries.

Instead, he helped to clear the wrecked car off the road, police spokeswoman Ilze Jones said.

“The car is smashed beyond repair but the driver survived with not a scratch, that’s a miracle,” she said.

It was just after 9.30am that police were alerted to a robbery at the mall, and when they got there the suspects were attempting to flee, Jones said.

Officers identified the get-away vehicle from witnesses who had seen the men rush to it. They gave chase, dodging several bullets and pumping a few into the car.

“The suspects shot two bullets at the police van and we retaliated, and that’s when the shoot-out started,” Jones said.

Three suspects armed with an AK-47 and 9mm pistols were arrested at the crash site, and they were taken to Garsfontein police station.

When the Pretoria News arrived, witnesses at the scene said the suspects were heavily armed.

They said it looked like the thugs had planned the robbery. They said they followed the action, watching in horror as the car lost control amid the flying bullets.

Jones said there were no injuries reported at the mall, or at the traffic lights where the head-on collision took place.

“No one was shot or injured,” she said.

Jones acknowledged the partnership between the SAPS and community security personnel, saying it was of crucial importance in the fight against crime.

“It is important to work together with both the security personnel and the community because this helps us to respond fast to crimes of this nature,” she said.