Cellphones place accused near seven burglaries

2013-05-17 00:00

CELLPHONES seized from three alleged members of a housebreaking syndicate have placed the men in close proximity to seven burglaries that occurred in five towns in KZN between January and April.

The towns are Howick, Empangeni, Eshowe, Richards Bay and Pietermaritzburg.

The men are expected to be charged in connection with all these incidents — and possibly more — once investigations have been completed.

This is according to the evidence of Thereza Botha of the Directorate for Priority Crime Investigation, testifying in the men’s bail application yesterday. She said the data she had analysed revealed the involvement of a “larger group of associates” than the men before court.

The men — Cebo Madyibi (35), Sihle Msomi (31) and Sifiso Hadebe (33) — are accused of breaking into homes in Town Hill and Lincoln Meade on April 25.

The investigating officer, Willem de Wet, who is opposing bail, testified on Wednesday that the trio were arrested on the N3 within an hour of the second burglary.

They were found in possession of the stolen loot, a crowbar, bolt cutters and gloves, De Wet said.

Police also seized five cellphones from the men, who admitted the phones belonged to them, he added.

Botha said she had analysed three of the cellphone numbers so far.

She found Madyibi was the “central figure of the communicative relationship” between the three men, as well as a larger group of common associates.

The gang had a “rather unique modus operandi”. They usually committed their crimes before 1 pm, had a preference for plasma screen TVs, laptops and jewellery, and demonstrated an “in-and-out housebreaking style”, not spending time on crime scenes, but rather concentrating on specific preferred items, she said.

The cellphone data showed that Madyibi had left Durban in the morning on each day when seven housebreakings occurred and his cellphone was thereafter activated by towers in the vicinity of each incident at relevant times.

Within hours of the housebreakings, during which goods worth R145 000 were taken, Madyibi was back in Durban.

The three men have submitted affidavits stating that they intend to plead not guilty to all charges.

Their advocate, Dalene Barnard, suggested to Botha that there was “nothing sinister” in the fact that the trio had communicated with one another via cellphone as they are friends.

The bail application, before Pietermaritzburg magistrate Celumusa Zungu, will continue today.

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