Eleven accused of ATM bombing campaign haven’t made a case to get bail — magistrate

2013-06-25 00:00

ELEVEN men charged with a series of ATM bombings and related charges, including the murder of a Pietermaritzburg policeman and two civilians in KZN, have been refused bail.

The accused shuffled into the dock in leg irons ahead of the judgment and the courtroom was guarded by heavily armed task force members.

Regional court magistrate Kevin Leat ruled that although it was “difficult to predict, ultimately, which way the case will go”, the accused had not shown exceptional circumstances justifying their release on bail.

He said the state’s case was based largely on circumstantial evidence, and that of two alleged accomplices. The ongoing analysis of the accused’s cellphone usage in the vicinity of alleged crime scenes was likely to be important evidence that could ultimately strengthen — or weaken — the state’s case.

Leat commented that it was odd that police had arrested nine of the accused all travelling together in a kombi in January, even though “this could happen”.

Their explanation was that they were en route to a funeral, but they gave no details of whose funeral it was, or where it was taking place.

Of the two accused not arrested in the kombi, Thembela Ngubane was arrested in hospital with an injured right hand. He claimed he was accidentally shot by his brother, but the state alleges his blood was found on a vehicle linked to a crime scene.

The other, Lungisani Dladla, was arrested at a hostel in Soweto.

Leat said, according to the evidence, none of the occupants in the kombi was found in possession of any incriminating items and the kombi was not stolen.

But investigating officer Willem de Wet said information provided by the accused had subsequently led police to a safe house used by the syndicate at Jozini, where police recovered three AK47 rifles, three AK47 rifle magazines, 119 AK47 live rounds of ammunition, a Colt .45 pistol and magazine and seven .45 Colt live rounds. De Wet said several of these firearms 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.

According to De Wet, the modus operandi of the ATM bombing syndicate was to use cars that were not stolen to transport gang members to and from safe houses in the vicinity of the ATM targets.

At the safe house, the syndicate would prepare for the operation, and then use stolen vehicles to get to and from the crime scenes.

The accused face 31 charges of murder, attempted murder, robbery with aggravating circumstances, theft, malicious injury to property, contravening the Explosives Act, and unlawful possession of machine guns, ammunition and explosives.

The offences were committed at Nottingham Road, Howick, Merri­vale, Greytown and Utrecht between September 28, 2012, and January 13 this year.

They are charged with shooting Mountain Rise police Constable Vidhur Jadoo during a confrontation with police at Howick on November 7 last year, and with the murders of two civilians, Bongokuhle Nkosi and Sizwe Gule, during a robbery at Utrecht on December 5 last year.

The case was postponed to July 26.

* The 11 accused are: Thembela Ngubane (27), Menziwa Mdakane (28), Sifiso Mdakane (32), Sifiso Khubeka (28), Sibongeni Msibi (33), Sphelele Dubazane (27), Siphiwe Mabizela (34), Muthikabani Buthelezi (31), Mthenjwa Buthelezi (27), Lungisani Dladla (32) and Themba Zulu (30).

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