Man tells court of intricate plot to steal huge Sappi wages haul

2012-03-14 00:00

AN accomplice told the high court this week how he and others ambushed a supervisor with SOS Contractors when he returned to his car after collecting R134 000 in employees’ wages from a pay office in Dalton in February 2010.

Mlungisi Derrick Ntshingila of Msinga gave evidence before acting high court Judge Louis Barnard and an assessor at the trial of four men charged with robbery with aggravating circumstances of Mark Joseph Mbanjwa at the UCL pay office in Dalton on February 25, 2010.

The accused, Thokozani Madondo (29) Mfano Mavimbela (35), Gabaza Zuma (41) and Musiwakhanya Ndlela (28), face three additional charges of unlawful possession of firearms and ammunition.

According to the state’s indictment, SOS Contractors was sub-contracted to Sappi to fell trees in the area at the time of the robbery.

The accused and others allegedly planned to rob Mbanjwa when he came to the pay office at UCL in Dalton to collect cash to pay out wages.

They accosted Mbanjwa as he was about to get into his vehicle, assaulted him with a firearm, took the cash and fled.

All four accused pleaded not guilty. In his evidence Ntshingila alleged that all four were involved.

He said Ndlela came up with the idea for the robbery and asked his friend, Zuma, to find people to participate.

Plans for the robbery were discussed at a taxi rank where the group met to play dice.

He said that on the way to the ambush he took over driving from Mavimbela, because he was not familiar with the area. They picked up another man who was enlisted to take part in the robbery, identified as “Sandile”.

In a forest the group met up with Ndlela, who told them the person they were going to rob had already left to fetch the money and they should “hurry up”. He described the man and his vehicle, a white Ford 4x4.

Mavimbela took out a two-litre bottle and sprinkled “muthi” all over their vehicle.

As they approached Dalton they stopped in a sugar plantation and Mavimbela “allocated duties” to each of them.

Ntshingila was the driver, Madondo and Mavimbela were to point firearms at the victim, Sandile was to take the money, and Zuma would “push” Mbanjwa into his vehicle. The plan had been to take the vehicle too.

Ndlela remained nearby but did not take part as he did not want to be seen by “people who knew him”.

Ntshingila said he waited in the parked vehicle near the ANC offices in Dalton from where he could see his companions.

When he saw Madondo and Mavimbela run towards the parked vehicle holding their firearms, followed by Sandile and Zuma, he drove closer but lost sight of what was happening, he said.

Suddenly Sandile approached walking “hastily” and holding a white plastic packet. A security guard ran past in the direction of the robbery, but did not appear to notice Sandile.

Ntshingila said Sandile got into the car, placed the packet on the floor and told him to drive off as he had heard gunshots.

They left without waiting for the others.

The case is proceeding.

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