Five armed men cleaned-out the Natal Diamonds jewellery store at the New Salt Rock Centre on Monday afternoon in a brazen daylight robbery.
The robbery went unnoticed by shoppers and security alike, enabling the robbers to make off with over R1 million in jewellery.
At 4.15pm, a man dressed in traditional Islamic clothing walked into the store and asked shop assistant Casey Leith to open a display case.
Owner Norman Parnell said he did not suspect anything untoward.
“The man had been in here 3 or 4 times over the past month saying he was looking for jewellery on behalf of his boss, so we had no reason to suspect anything,” said Parnell.
A further four men entered the store over the next few minutes, two of them armed.
One of the gunmen forced both Parnell and Leith into the store room at the back of the store, restraining Parnell with cable ties, and forcing Leith into a small gap between the safe and the wall.
“The first guy dropped a bullet on the floor next to my head, I wasn’t sure if it was a warning, but it made me fear for my life,” said Parnell.
The robbers were inside the store for almost 10 minutes, temporarily hiding behind display cases as people walked past the door.
“I guess people don’t really look around that much when they are doing their shopping, and that’s how these guys could rob us in broad daylight,” said Parnell.
On the in-store camera footage, two security guards can also been seen at times, walking in the parking lot and near the store.
As the men left, Parnell was able to get loose and press the panic button.
“I ran after them, and tried to see if I could stop them somehow, but when the boom dropped at the exit of the parking lot it was already too late.”
Parnell has offered a R200 000 reward to anyone who can ensure a full recovery of the stolen jewellery, and if possible, enable the police to arrest those responsible for the robbery.
The men were driving a white X-series BMW car.
Theo van As, estate manager of the New Salt Rock City centre confirmed that the getaway car was a stolen vehicle and it has since been recovered by Umhlali Saps.
“Saps were very helpful, and responded quickly to the scene. We also want to thank IPSS for all their help, and we hope to hear more good news soon,” said Van As.
If you have any details to report, you can contact Norman Parnell at Natal Diamonds on 032 525 4488 or 074 889 0502.
The Saps were asked for comment, however provided none at the time of going to print.