They pulled him out piece by piece, a dead guard who has become the first victim of a heist gang who used explosives to blast open a cash-in-transit van.
The Group 4 Securicor guard died in Newtown, Joburg, during rush hour and his partner was shot in the back as he desperately tried to flee his attackers. He is in a critical but serious condition in hospital.
The heist happened around 5.30pm yesterday, with shopowners and bystanders sent scurrying for safety as bullets flew behind the van, travelling south on Malherbe Street.
Seconds later, a navy-blue BMW rammed the armoured truck on its side, forcing it through a shop's gate.
"It was mad shooting and we saw the van crashing through our gate," said a shopowner, who gave his name as Shakile. "They were shouting 'fuck off' and 'get out'."
A motorist waiting at the traffic lights on the corner of Bree and Malherbe streets, a few metres from the scene, noticed a group of people running towards him.
"There were gunshots, and people running towards me, but I noticed a BMW speeding towards the van, hitting it on the side," the motorist said.
The driver of the cash van, said Shakile, was shot in the back as he ran down Malherbe Street.
A bystander was shot in the right thigh.
Shakile, who had come out from hiding with his wife to investigate, said: "Silence followed for at least 15 minutes and then we heard shouting.
"Three men carrying rifles paced in front of the store, and we thought they were police officers."
One of them, he said, had double-taped the magazines of his rifle for quick reloading.
Seconds later, a loud bang rocked their building and the couple again fled to the back of the store. "Our walls and windows started shaking and we heard more gunfire," he said.
The explosion had blasted through the back of the van, ripping to shreds a security guard locked inside the back of the van.
Minutes later, three BMWs reportedly sped towards Brixton.
When The Star arrived at the scene, the injured bystander and the van's driver were being treated for gunshot wounds by paramedics.
The area around the two vehicles was littered with spent cartridges, which police officers had marked with cones.
Police spokesperson Gordon Billings said: "We have not yet determined if they made off with any money, as police are still going through the security van."
By late last night, police had not made any arrests.
As police recovered the body, several of his Group 4 Securicor colleagues looked on.
One of them, a veteran of a heist last year, was surprised that the gang had struck so late in the day.
Meanwhile, Professor Anthony Minnaar, of Unisa's criminology and security sciences department, said that if criminals had used explosives to blow open the doors of the van, the security industry would have to come up with viable preventive measures very quickly.
Yesterday's incident was the first time that Minnaar had heard about a cash van being blown up during a heist.
"Ev erything has just gone up a level; bombing could just be the newest development," said Minnaar, adding that the back doors of cash-in-transit vans would have to be strengthened.
From what he had been told of the circumstances of the heist, Minnaar suspected the robbers had used too much explosive.
Were these guys cops or military?