South African police killed eight would-be robbers during a foiled heist on a vehicle carrying cash, the police minister said Monday, in one of the country's deadliest shootouts in recent years.
Police acted on a tip-off and deployed a helicopter to fend off a planned cash-in-transit robbery in southern Johannesburg's suburb of Rosettenville.
The suspects fired at the police chopper and wounded one of the pilots, forcing police to shoot back. Three other policemen were injured.
"They shot the helicopter before anybody did anything to them," Police Minister Bheki Cele told reporters at the scene of the crime. "They shot the pilot."
The minister said a gang of about 25 gunmen from the southeastern KwaZulu-Natal province as well as from neighbouring Zimbabwe and Botswana were involved in the attempted robbery.
Eight of the surviving gang members were arrested and the rest are on the run, he said.
Robbers often target vehicles transporting cash in crime-ridden South Africa.
Police last week reported that 60 cash-in-transit robberies were committed between October and December 2021, a slight drop from the same period in 2020.