Kokstad bank heist guilty sentenced today

2009-04-15 00:00

THE R3,894 million armed robbery of the Kokstad FNB branch in December 2003 was finely planned and executed with military precision, Judge Thumba Pillay said in the high court in Pietermaritzburg yesterday during argument on sentence for the three men convicted of the robbery.

The robbers were convicted in the high court in Durban on April 1 and will be sentenced today.

The convicted men include:

• Mphumelelo Lunika (33) of Lusikisiki, a bank clerk who helped a gang rob his own bank;

• Mzikayise Zuma (49) of Kokstad, an induna married to an SAPS inspector earning R14 000 a month; and

• Sanele Ntuli (32) of New Germany.

Originally 15 men were implicated in the robbery, but some have died since and others have been sentenced for other crimes.

On December 8, 2003, two of the robbers, posing as businessmen and carrying guns, went to the bank. Other robbers stood guard or drove getaway cars. The two met a security guard, who was an accomplice, at the bank door as arranged. The guard told bank staff member Janine Ruiters that she should let the two in as they were there to meet the manager. She complied.

As they entered, they produced guns, ordered staff to lie down and made staffer Erick Mkhize hand them the safe keys. While some loaded money into cars, others robbed staff members of their cellphones.

The robbers later met and divided up the money, each getting about R70 000.

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