ATM bombers’ trail of destruction

2013-04-15 00:00

TWENTY people have been killed and 65 wounded by ATM bombers countrywide since July 2007.

These statistics, provided by the South African Bank Risk Information Centre (Sabric), were attached to the affidavit of Warrant Officer Willem de Wet of the Organised Crime Unit, who is opposing the granting of bail to 10 alleged members of an ATM bombing syndicate operating in KZN.

According to statistics kept by Sabric, 11 policemen, seven security officials and two civilians were killed by perpetrators of ATM bombings since July 2007.

Over the same period, 38 policemen, 12 security personnel and 15 civilians were injured by ATM bombers.

The statistics did not include the murder of Mountain Rise dog unit Constable Vidhur Jadoo, who died after he and a colleague were ambushed by suspected ATM bombers in Howick on November 7 last year, and whose murder features among the 31 charges facing the 10 accused, who will stand trial in the Pietermaritzburg high court.

The 10 men, who are allegedly members of an ATM bombing syndicate that operated in the province from 2011, were heavily guarded when they appeared briefly before regional court magistrate Chris van Vuuren.

In his affidavit opposing the granting of bail, De Wet said the state plans to call two accomplices to testify at the trial. Their evidence and safety was of paramount importance, he said.

De Wet said if the accused were released on bail these witnesses would feel intimidated or influenced not to testify.

He said he also feared that the accused would not stand trial and it would be difficult to trace them again, and that if released there was a possibility that they would continue to commit crimes.

De Wet said there is a strong case against the accused.

A number of witnesses who were closely linked to them are expected to testify, and their testimony is strengthened by circumstantial evidence including cellphone data.

After identifying their targets, the syndicate would find a safe house nearby where they could meet and prepare the explosives and firearms.

Before setting out — on an open bakkie (which was usually stolen) — the bombers would don balaclavas and gloves and arm themselves. They would also ensure that the explosives were ready and set with a detonator to save time at the target.

“Multiple ATMs are usually targeted; two or three in a row,” said De Wet.

He said after causing explosions at the ATMs and removing the cash, the syndicate would go back to their safe house, share the money between them and thereafter return to Gauteng in vehicles that were not stolen.

De Wet said the accused were arrested in northern KZN in January following information received from an informer that a “job” had been planned in the area.

The accused had subsequently provided information that led police to a safe house where the group had slept over at Jozini and where police recovered three AK47 rifles, three AK47 rifle magazines, 119 AK47 live rounds of ammunition, a Colt .45 pistol, a Colt .45 magazine and seven Colt .45 live rounds.

De Wet said several of the firearms that were recovered were ballistically linked to “most of the crime scenes”.

Police also recovered nine explosive cartridges and four electric detonators in a stolen Ford Bantam bakkie left at the safe house.

The bail hearing will continue on June 14.

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