‘Sticky tape gang’ suspects released on technicality

2014-03-04 00:00

FARMERS’ emotions ran high at the Camperdown Magistrate’s Court yesterday when eight suspects alleged to be members of the notorious “sticky tape gang” were released without appearing in court.

The farming community were overjoyed when they heard police had finally arrested the gun-toting suspects who were terrorising local farmers.

But their joy turned to fear when it emerged that the confession statement of one of the accused, who allegedly said he was a member of the gang and had pointed out the others, contained an error. The suspect’s confession was related to the armed robberies taking place on Camperdown and Eston farms where, in come cases, sticky tape was used to tie residents up before firearms, cash and valuables were stolen.

However, the slick suspect got away on a technicality because he put the wrong date of when the events happened, leading to the senior prosecutor having to throw the case out of court as there was no evidence linking these men to the recent armed robberies.

Farmer Cameron Smith said, “I understand the prosecutor’s viewpoint because they rely on the police to write proper statements in order for them to have a concrete case to do their work.”

He said it was disappointing for police to rely on a weak statement without doing proper groundwork before making an arrest. “They just jumped the gun when they should have followed proper procedures to have a successful case,” he said.

Smith said what made the matter even more difficult to prosecute was that the suspects were not caught on scene so police relied on a weak confession.

Smith said the farming community remained at risk with the alleged “sticky tape gang” still on the loose. “Everybody is on edge and prepared to do whatever it takes to ensure their safety,” he said.

Divisional manager of Specialised Security Services and farmer Neville Mipping said he thought it was a comedy of errors.

“I think the police rushed and arrested people just to keep farmers happy, which backfired because farmers are even more frustrated, because their hopes have been dashed by the turn of events,” he said.

He said this weekend farmers were happy that police had put an end to their nightmare, but now they are all upset as they don’t know who will be targeted next.

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