Long term for ATM bomber

2009-07-09 00:00

KWAMASHU man Celumusa Khehla Nene (32), who was convicted last Friday of bombing three automatic teller machines (ATMs), theft of R747 370 as well as the attempted murder of six police officer­s at Hammarsdale in July last year, has been sentenced to an effective 12 years’ imprisonment by Durban High Court Judge Mohini Murugasen.

He was found guilty of three counts of malicious injury to property for bombing three ATM machines; two counts of theft; one of attempted theft and three counts of attempted murder arising from the attacks on police who pursued the gang. A total of 79 years’ imprisonment was imposed for all the counts, but they were ordered to run concurrently.

The explosions were caused to ATMs at the Webber Shopping Centre in Hammarsdale on July 15, 2008.

Evidence was that Nene and other gang members arrived at the centre shortly after midnight. The entrance was locked, but the assailants, who were armed with firearms and explosives, broke open the gates, confronted security guards and blew up ATMs belonging to Standard Bank, Nedbank and Absa.

While fleeing the scene, the gang set up an ambush for police from Mpumalanga and engaged officers in three vehicles in a gunbattle.

The first officers on the scene, Thembinkosi Bhengu and Mthokozisi Mnikathi, were forced to abandon their police van under fire and the attackers drove off with the van.

The third police vehicle to arrive, driven by Mpumelelo Mndaweni and Sondlo Hlela, pursued the stolen police van on to the freeway and then on to the Durban-bound section of the M13 highway. At the Hillcrest off-ramp the assailants stopped and another gunfight took place, before the gang managed to flee.

Judge Murugasen acquitted Nene on a charge of attempted murder of a taxi driver, Mxolisi Zwane, whose minibus was struck by bullets near Hammarsdale, as she found it could not be proved that the shots were not fired by the police.

Zwane, unhurt, managed to flee.

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