Two get life for hold-up in Ladysmith

2012-07-12 00:00

TWO men were jailed for life plus an effective 20 years’ imprisonment in Pietermaritzburg yesterday for robbery, murder and attempted murder arising from an armed hold-up at Mark’s Tyres in Ladysmith on November 28, 2007.

A security guard, Sipho Innocent Mchunu, was shot and killed during the robbery.

Pietermaritzburg high court Judge Jerome Mnguni yesterday convicted Sabelo Mbambo (now 30 years old) and Kwazi Lushaba (now 37 years), both of Ezakheni near Ladysmith, of robbery with aggravating circumstances and the murder of Sipho Mchunu and attempted murder of Roger Tyler. The robbery victims were Mchunu, Mark Pitout, Marie Ann Strydom and Johannes Strydom,

Three other accused, Nqaba Khumalo, Bongumusa Madlala and Sibusiso Mzimela, were acquitted after the court found there was insufficient evidence linking them to the crimes.

For Mzimela the acquittal was practically meaningless as The Witness was told he was already serving sentences totalling 106 years’ imprisonment in connection with numerous other cases, including a charge of escaping from custody.

His presence prompted ultra-tight security at the high court yesterday. Heavily armed police and Correctional Services officers guarded entrances to the courtroom and subjected anyone attending the case to a thorough body search.

Madlala and Khumalo hurried from court after the verdict without commenting on their acquittal.

Madlala’s legal representative, Anwar Jessop said his client was naturally extremely happy to be free.

The state alleged that Madlala, who worked at Mark’s Tyres, was instrumental in planning the robbery, but the court ruled that there was insufficient proof of his involvement.

Judge Mnguni found there were no compelling and substantial circumstances which would justify the court imposing less than the minimum prescribed sentences on Mbambo and Lushaba.

He took into account defence submissions that they had already served more than four years in prison awaiting trial, the fact that they acted in furtherance of a common purpose to commit the offences, which were extremely serious, and the “brutal and thoughtless” manner in which they carried out their actions.

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