Cigarette syndicate jailed

2011-11-09 00:00

AN attorney and five of his accomplices were convicted and sentenced in the Ramsgate High Court last week.

The syndicate was arrested near Scottburgh in 2009 in connection with a string of hijackings of DHL vehicles that transported cigarettes.

During 2008 and 2009 DHL vehicles transporting British American Tobacco Products in KwaZulu Natal were hijacked 159 times.

Police spokesperson Lieutenant Colonel Zandra Wiid said, “The cargo was being stolen and the DHL vehicles were always recovered shortly after the hijackings.”

The loss to the company was R15,3 million in the two years.

“DPCI organised crime unit Port Shepstone launched “Operation Highway” to nab the syndicate,” said Wiid.

The men were arrested during a botched hijacking near Scottburgh when the vehicle was intercepted by the police near Scottburgh.

“Six people from the Durban area were arrested and a Ford Courier bakkie and a VW Jetta were recovered as well as two unlicensed firearms.”

After numerous unsuccessful bail applications the trial of the six accused begain on October 17 at Ramsgate High court.

The trial concluded on November 4 when all six were convicted and sentenced.

Linda Mbatha, an attorney, Siyabonga Gumede and Philani Mnkathi each received 19 years’ jail. Zakhele Khumalo, Thabane Shabalala and Siyabonga Shozi received sentences of 20, 17 and 22 years respectively.

DHL could not be reached for comment at the time of going to press.

• witness@feveronline.co.za

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