SAPS constable faces robbery charges

2009-09-15 00:00

AN Umlazi SAPS constable is facing charges stemming from an armed robbery he committed with three other Durban men. They were arrested with their booty in a stolen vehicle and carrying a pistol from which the serial numbers were erased.

This evidence was given while the four were applying for bail yesterday.

Pietermaritzburg magistrate Divesh Mootheram reserved judgment for September 23.

The investigating officer, Inspector Derek Coetzee told the court that one of the bail applicants, Skhumbuso Khanyile (40), a neighbour of the accused Constable Nkosinathi Buthelezi (37), had previously been arrested for seven robberies but had always been released.

Before hearing their bail applications Mootheram warned the four that it was a serious offence if they do not own up to previous convictions or face other pending cases. Initially Khanyile denied that he had previous convictions but faces a robbery charge. However, prosecutor Pranisha Kassool told the court that he faced charges of rape, kidnap and attempted murder. Khanyile replied: “That was the robbery case I mentioned.”

Coetzee said that Khanyile’s finger prints had been lifted at a Boston business that he robbed previously. He has not been charged for the robbery.

Buthelezi has been suspended and is to face an internal disciplinary hearing.

Their co-accused are Sbonisa Ngobhozi (24) and Sandile Blose (28).

Coetzee said that they robbed the Shosholoza Bottle Store in Grange on July 27 after driving up in the stolen vehicle with a NRB number plate in front and none on the back. Three men rushed into the store, one jumped over a security mesh on top of the counter and terrified a woman into a state of shock. They took R600 and bottles of alcohol. He said that they had on the previous day reconnoitred the area.

The police were alerted and the accused were arrested as they were driving on the Eston road.

Coetzee opposed bail for several reasons. He said that they may abscond and not stand trial because the state has a strong case and they know that if convicted they will receive long terms for armed robbery and possession of a weapon from which the serial numbers are erased.

He also fears that they may commit more crimes. Four youths who saw them at the bottle store do not want to take part in an identity parade out of fear if the accused are released, and the local people’s sense of security would be diminished further as the bottle store has been robbed three times this year, Coetzee added.

He also felt it is impossible to enforce bail conditions if suspects choose not to abide by them.

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