Mount Nelson Hotel Source: Google Images

The owners of the upmarket Mount Nelson hotel yesterday dismissed claims that the opening of a jewellery store on the premises made it the target for at least three robberies in the past six months.

In the latest incident, a gang of 15 men driving two vehicles gained access to the premises on Tuesday, after threatening the security guard with a firearm.

Flying Squad members, who spoke on condition of anonymity, said it appeared the robbery was well planned because the suspects came armed with big hammers to smash the glass jewellery cabinet display windows to remove items. They also stole an undisclosed amount of cash. Guests and staff were also robbed of their personal belongings.

Jocelyn Betts, spokesperson for Belmond, the global group which owns the hotel, said she would be keen to understand the source of the information, adding that, as a matter of policy, the company would not comment on rumours or speculation.

Confirming the incident, she said: “The four guests present at the time are safe and have our full support. We are open as usual.

“As I am sure you will appreciate, we cannot provide any further comment at this time.

“The safety and security of our guests and staff is our utmost priority and we have robust security arrangements in place across our global portfolio, which we regularly review.”

Meanwhile, members of the Flying Squad last night said as long as their members and vehicles were used to bolster the major operations reaction team (MORT), they would not be able to tackle the scourge of business robberies in the province.

Ronel Stander, from trade union Solidarity, said: “With the shortage of personnel and vehicles the unit is only functioning with skeleton staff. The withdrawal of these members has a serious impact on the productivity and effectiveness of the Flying Squad in its fight against crime.”

Police spokesperson FC van Wyk said, according to reports,15 unknown males driving a white Toyota Corola and a white VW Polo gained access to the Mount Nelson after threatening the security guard with a firearm.

The brazen robbers are still at large and the police have requested anyone with information to contact Crime Stop on 08600 10111.