Manhunt launched after heist at Bloemfontein airport

Free State police have launched a manhunt for a gang who robbed a chartered aircraft at the Bloemfontein airport of an undisclosed amount of money early on Thursday.

Police spokesperson Captain Elsa Gerber said a group of between eight and ten men stopped their Ford double cab bakkie in front of the Baron Beachcraft twin prop plane at around 7.45am, preventing the pilot from taking off.

“The robbers gained entry to the area when the Coin security van which delivered the cash to the plane left the area,” she said.

The remote controlled gate to the enclosed area is about 200m from where the pilot was preparing the privately owned plane for take-off.

Gerber said one of the robbers jumped on the plane’s wing, opened the co-pilot’s door and held the pilot at gunpoint.

Three others moved to the back of the plane and held a security guard at gunpoint.

“The other men loaded four bags of money with an undisclosed amount into the bakkie,” said Gerber.

The robbers sped away from the hangar which is situated just next to the airport’s main parking area.

Gerber said the 19-year-old pilot, Dewald Grobler, and the 23-year-old security guard George Matsotso were unharmed.

“It all happened very fast,” Grobler, who is based in Johannesburg, said.

“They stopped in front of the plane. The guy told me to switch everything off and they took the money and left.

“The guy held the pistol at my shoulder… the whole thing took about 40 seconds.”

The highway patrol as well as the police’s air unit were helping with the search for the suspects.

Gerber said all rural police stations around Bloemfontein had also been put on high alert. - Sapa

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