Port Elizabeth police foiled a possible robbery by catching three men, armed with a stolen firearm, sitting in a car outside Walmer Park Shopping Centre on Monday afternoon.
One of the men had been on the run for more than three years after allegedly robbing a woman in East London and shooting her husband.
He was arrested outside Walmer Park Shopping Centre on Monday afternoon.
Details emerged shortly after police nabbed a 32-year-old driver, as well as two passengers, while sitting in a Corolla in the complex carpark near one of the entrances.
While details as to why they were sitting inside the car, with a stolen firearm, remains unknown, police suspect that the trio were preparing to rob someone leaving a bank that is based inside the centre.
Police spokeswoman Colonel Priscilla Naidu said that at about 2pm, the Flying Squad received a tip-off of a suspect who was wanted in Beacon Bay sitting in a car near entrance two in the carpark.
“Police moved in and forced all three occupants out of the car. The driver attempted to evade arrest by running away, however, he was caught by police,” she said.
A stolen loaded firearm was found under the driver’s seat inside the car.
“It turns out that the driver is wanted on a case of attempted murder and armed robbery in Beacon Bay, East London, in February 2015.”
Naidu said that the warrant of arrest stems from the robbery in which the driver, and another accomplice who was not present, followed an East London woman to her house after she drew money at an ATM.
The driver was wanted for allegedly shooting former police captain Tony Durrheim, 65, in Beacon Bay in 2015.
Durrheim, who headed up the Child Protection Unit from 1984 until he left the service in 2000, was shot after running to his wife’s aid after hearing screams outside the couple’s front gate.
Durrheim’s wife Lynn, 58, had withdrawn R15,000 from a Beacon Bay Retail Park bank on Saturday morning before being accosted by two men who followed her home.
She said she had conducted her withdrawal via a teller in a private cubicle in the bank.
Naidu said that since the robbery, the 32-year-old driver had been arrested and granted bail before skipping his court appearances.
“Due to him going on the run since the robbery in Beacon Bay, a warrant for his arrest was issued.”
Asked if the trio were planning to follow someone from a bank inside the centre, Naidu said that while it was unknown it would make sense.
“They are being questioned and we suspect that they were planning to commit a crime or robbery. This is why they had the firearm with them,” she said.
“What exactly they were planning on doing remains unknown at this stage. The driver has been arrested on the warrant of arrest and illegal possession of a firearm and ammunition. The two men inside the car with him, who are 29 and 35 years old, were arrested for the firearm being found inside the car with them inside it.”
Asked if they had foiled a possible robbery, Naidu said that she could not speculate.
The three suspects are due to appear in the Port Elizabeth Magistrate’s Court on Wednesday before the driver of the car will be transported to East London for his pending cases.