A man was shot during a robbery in Bryanston, Sandton, on Monday night in what some believe to be an escalation of gangs targeting residents in the posh Johannesburg suburb.
According to Andre Snyman of eBlockwatch, this was the first shooting incident since organised criminals started operating in the area about two years ago.
The victim was shot in the upper body and was taken to hospital where police say he is in a stable condition.
Snyman told News24 that two gangs have been targeting residents and have carried out a spate of robberies and break-ins. The one gang, which Snyman calls the "Bryanston Creepy Crawlies", apparently enters properties late at night by scaling the back walls and crawling underneath security beams - hence the nickname.
The second gang operates during the day by entering properties through front entrances, Snyman says.
"They use crowbars to lift the gates from their rails. They're mostly after jewellery and TVs. They rip the TVs off the wall and rip out all the wiring and they get into their cars and away they go."
Criminals are doing 'Christmas shopping'
According to Snyman, robberies take place daily.
"There are normally about three of them (robbers), but they have never really shown aggression.
"But [on Monday] night there was a shootout at around 20:30 and a [resident] landed up in hospital."
Snyman says the incident happened at a block of residential complexes near Bryanston Shopping Centre.
"This is the third time those complexes have been hit [by robberies] in the past month."
Police and security companies were on the scene of the shooting until late on Monday night, says Snyman.
"There was pandemonium among all the residents there because of all the previous robberies. Everyone is really scared at this stage because it seems these guys are doing their 'Christmas shopping' and are in quite a hurry to do it."
Snyman says the South African Police Service (SAPS) has been prioritising these incidents. "They have escalated it."
No gangs - just crime as usual
Sandton police spokesperson Captain Granville Meyer confirmed the shooting to News24, but said no gang-related activities were being investigated.
"A man was shot during a house robbery when he confronted three suspects. He was shot in the shoulder and taken to hospital."
Meyer denied that gangs were operating in the area, or that the police were investigating anything gang related.
"This was just a normal robbery. I used to work in the gang unit in Cape Town, so I will know if these crimes are linked to gangs," Meyer said.