One on trial for armed heist

2010-02-18 00:00

AS a security guard unlocked a drop safe at the BP Garage in Edendale on March 31, 2008, and prepared to collect the cash takings, a bakkie loaded with armed men drove up to the security van and bullets began flying, according to evidence led in the Pietermaritzburg high court.

On trial for the robbery in which R206 571,95 was allegedly stolen, is 39-year-old Bongani Chonco of Klaarwater, Pinetown, who has pleaded not guilty to all charges.

He was previously one of five accused in the case, but the state withdrew charges against four others earlier. The reasons have not been placed on record.

Giving evidence yesterday before Judge Wendy Hughes-Madondo and two assessors, the driver of the Group 4 Securicor Cash Services van which came under attack, Woldemark Botes, described how he had initially noticed a man use a cellphone and he began hooting to alert his colleague, Dennis Dlloyd, who was at the drop safe in the process of collecting cash boxes at the time.

He said everything happened very quickly. As he hooted he became aware of a bakkie loaded with men with firearms on the back driving up. Dlloyd jumped back into their vehicle and closed the back door. “By then the bullets were flying already,” said Botes.

He drove off and as he did so the shooting continued and bullets struck the cash van. Two bullets penetrated the windows to the cash vehicle and glass fell on him but the impact of the bullets by then was not great enough to hurt him, he said. “There were just two small holes.”

He said he had not really inspected the van later on as he was still shocked, but he did notice that there was damage to the van.

Neither he nor Dlloyd were injured.

Botes said when he got near Edendale hospital the vehicle came to a stop because a front tyre had been punctured.

He had already called for help from his depot and help arrived soon afterwards. After changing the tyre they had returned to the robbery scene.

The manager at the BP Garage, Ambrose Sokhela, said while a security guard was opening the wall safe at the garage he saw a bakkie arrive and park in front of the security van. There were many black males on the back.

“I thought they had come for diesel because there was a diesel pump at the back. I shouted from inside that they should move away from the security van. The last thing I saw was one [man] stand up carrying a bag and it looked as if he was opening the bag… After that there were gunshots.”

Sokhela said he took female staff members to an office and called the police emergency number. He said he thereafter remained in the office because he was frightened.

Police arrived at the scene quickly, he said.

The court was told that two cash boxes, one of which had been cut open, were subsequently recovered in thick bush alongside the road between Imbali and France location. Investigating officer Inspector Swami Pillay said the spot was difficult to reach because of the dense bush and the slippery and rocky terrain.

The case is proceeding.

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