Drama as 'heist 26' appear in court

2008-10-13 00:00

Heavily armed police lined the courtroom in the Pietermaritzburg High Court where members of an alleged cash-in- transit syndicate, dubbed the “KZN 26”, appeared before Judge Jan Combrink to resolve issues around their legal representation.

The 26 men — one of whom (Eddie Ubisi) was not in court as he had to appear elsewhere — are to face a charge of murder, 10 of attempted murder, five of theft, three of robbery with aggravating circumstances, one of attempted robbery with aggravating circumstances and three kidnapping charges. They are also charged with six counts of unlawful possession of firearms, one of possession of ammunition and a charge of failing to lock away a firearm.

Their trial is currently under way in Pongola where it resumes from November 10 to December 19.

Only one accused, Mbuso Mncube (36) of Richards Bay, is on bail. The others, who are in Westville prison, shuffled into court in chains.

When Witness photographer Mark Wing took out his camera to take a photograph with the permission of the judge while court was not in session, one of the accused objected strongly, causing police to intervene. The Witness was advised to refrain from taking pictures as it might “cause an incident”.

Charges the accused face include two relating to cash-in-transit heists on the N2 at kwaMbonambi on October 2, 2006, in which the robber gang rammed Fidelity Cash Management Services vehicles with luxury cars.

In the first incident, the robbers overturned the Fidelity van, but failed to cut it open to gain access to the money. In the second, shortly afterwards, they stole R1,6 million. Gang members hijacked motorists in the vicinity of the heists and a motorist was shot at.

Twenty-four of the accused, said to have travelled in four vehicles, were arrested at Mvoti Toll Plaza, after they allegedly met up and divided the money.

ingrido@witness.co.za

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