Armed robbers flee Mimosa Mall store taking millions in jewellery

In a hit that took less than two minutes, a brazen gang of armed robbers used hammers to smash the counters of HDL Jewellers in a Bloemfontein mall on Thursday morning before making off with the valuable stash in bags.

Mimosa Mall said the gang entered the jewellery store at 09:03:33 and were out by 09:04:57.

Assistants thought the seven men, who wore caps, were customers and asked if they could be of assistance, Free State police spokesperson Constable Wendy Nkabi said.

Four of the men then jumped over the counter, pointed a firearm at employees and demanded that they lie down.

"One suspect among the seven ordered the victims to open the safe. They then started to break the jewellery counter with hammers and took jewellery worth millions," said Nkabi.

Around 14 glass counters were smashed.

Rings, necklaces and accessories, along with watches in display cabinets, were taken.

The mall's managers said in a statement that the group packed the jewellery into bags.

"No gunshots were fired, and as per latest information available, unfortunately one shopper was shoved. HDL Jewellers pressed the panic button and security and police responded promptly."

Staff and shoppers in close proximity were sent for trauma counselling.

Nkabi said a manhunt for the gang was under way.

The Laubscher family, who owns the business, thanked those who called and offered assistance in the wake of the robbery.

"We're all safe. That's the most important thing. It's going to take us a few days to open again in Mimosa Mall but we'll stay open in [Loch Logan] Waterfront," they said in an Afrikaans statement on their Facebook page.

"Thank you also to our wonderful staff who were calm during [the] robbery."