A group of men believed to be behind a spate of armed robberies in Cape Town central were arrested this week, allegedly while in possession of firearms.
While Western Cape police did not divulge which robberies the men were linked to, the Cape Town Central City Improvement District's (CCID's) safety and security manager Muneeb Hendricks told News24 that the five were arrested after it circulated information about a syndicate operating in the city.
The Daily Voice also quoted Grassy Park police commander Colonel Dawood Laing as saying that a VW Polo searched during the arrests was believed to have been involved in the Mount Nelson Hotel robbery earlier this week.
Police spokesperson Captain FC van Wyk said two suspicious vehicles, a Toyota Avanza and VW Polo, had been driving around a shopping mall in the Claremont area on Wednesday when they were picked up by licence plate recognition cameras.
Officers tested the Avanza registration number and it turned out that it belonged to a stolen Toyota Conquest.
"On members' arrival, the suspects sped off in their vehicles and the police gave chase. The Avanza was stopped and four suspects were arrested," said Van Wyk.
"The suspect in the VW Polo stopped the vehicle and tried to run away. He also threw the firearm he had away, but he was caught by a member and a firearm was retrieved."
Several undisclosed items were found in the vehicles, along with a firearm and a gas gun that resembled a 9mm firearm.
The Daily Voice reported that the men were arrested minutes before executing a plan to rob a cellphone shop.
The men, aged 24 to 35, were expected to appear in the Wynberg Magistrate's Court on Friday on charges of possession of unlicensed firearms and ammunition, possession of suspected stolen property and housebreaking implements.
News24 reported on Friday that criminals had turned their sights to high-end businesses in the Cape Town CBD, which had resulted in "unprecedented levels" of armed robberies.
Hendricks told News24 on Friday that a specific syndicate was operating in the area.
"In the CBD, four businesses have been affected, but these perpetrators have hit other areas as well," he said.
"We hope that this excellent arrest by SAPS will bring these armed robberies to an end, but we are still asking business owners and their staff to be vigilant."