Nine suspects were shot dead after police officers responded to a planned robbery at a business in Isipingo on Saturday, KwaZulu-Natal police said.
A gang of eight had been planning to bomb the safes but were met by officers around 01:50, said Captain Nqobile Gwala.
"Immediately when they saw the police officers they fired shots. There was an exchange of gunfire," she said.
Seven suspects were killed and a 29-year-old man was arrested.
Gwala said three rifles, six pistols, explosives and breaking implements were recovered from the suspects.
"Whilst the police officers were still busy at the scene, gunshots were heard emanating not far from the main crime scene," she said.
"Two suspects opened fire at the police officers and there was an exchange of gunfire. Two suspects were declared dead at the scene."
Officers found two unlicensed firearms in their possession.
Police were investigating an inquest and charges of attempted murder, attempted robbery, and possession of unlicensed firearms, ammunition and housebreaking implements.
Police Minister Bheki Cele commended the officers for foiling a robbery and recovering firearms.
"The police must be supported in the fight against dangerous and highly armed criminals. The call to half violent crimes requires a dedicated workforce that will go out there and stamp the authority of the state."