Mpumalanga police have launched a manhunt for a gang targeting funeral parlours in Mbombela and surrounding areas

Three incidents took place in one week. In all of the incidents, money had been taken.

According to police spokesperson Brigadier Leonard Hlathi, the first funeral parlour was robbed on 30 June in Mbombela by two armed suspects.

“Preliminary investigation suggest that the suspects pounced on an administration clerk who was alone, busy with her normal duties. After entering the premises, they demanded money at gunpoint and after taking it, they tied her with cable ties, then fled the scene. The victim was eventually freed by security guards who were patrolling the business centre and immediately notified the police.”

The second incident also took place in Mbombela, on 1 July, when two armed suspects entered the premises and found an administration clerk helping two clients.

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“They threatened her and the clients with firearms, then took money belonging to the business, as well as from one of the clients. Before fleeing the scene, the suspects locked the victims at the back of the premises. The victims managed to free themselves and police were summoned to the scene,” Hlathi said.

Another funeral parlour was robbed in Kabokweni on 3 July. Employees were accosted by two men who entered the business under false pretences that they wanted to sign up for funeral policies.

“While the administration staff members were busy explaining to the men about various policy options, suddenly these men drew firearms and pointed them at the employees. The suspects locked those employees in the storeroom, took money then absconded the scene.”

Hlathi said that the crime threat analysis suggested that funeral parlours in the area were being targeted, as all three robberies took place within a week.

Mpumalanga police commissioner Lieutenant General Mondli Zuma requested funeral parlour owners to strengthen their security measures when banking or collecting money from clients. He also urged members of the public to assist police in identifying the criminals.

Anyone with information that may lead to the arrest of the suspects is urged to contact Detective Colonel Lisa Sambo on 082 462 2748, or Crime Stop at 08600 10111. A tip-off can also be forwarded to the My SAPS app, Hlathi added.