Victims track down robbers

2008-11-05 00:00

A series of lucky co-incidences and the courage and determination to do their own investigation enabled a married couple — students at the University of KwaZulu-Natal — to help police catch the robbers who had taken their money and belongings.

However, Lebohang Toloane (30) and his wife Lerato (25) fear for their lives because one of the suspects was arrested in his Scottsville flat, close to where the couple live.

The Toloanes are from Lesotho and are studying for Bachelor of Commerce degrees at the Pietermaritzburg campus.

“I’m pleased that we stood up to the crime. But at the same time I feel unsafe knowing that one of these guys may know me as he lives close to our flat and the university. He also has connections in the same area,” said Lebohang Toloane.

Police spokesman Senior Superintendent Henry Budhram confirmed that two men, Vuyani Mkhize (36) and Vuyandi Bhidlia (28), were arrested in connection with the robbery.

The robbery took place in Greyling Street on the night of October 28.

The two robbers appeared from one of the dark lanes while the couple were seeking directions to a friend’s flat in Hoosen Haffajee Street. A white vehicle started following them in Scottsville, but disappeared before they reached Greyling Street.

“I had just got out of the car to look for directions. Suddenly two men appeared from behind. One of them produced a gun and demanded my laptop,” said Toloane.

Toloane said he panicked and jumped over a fence into a yard before locking his wife inside the vehicle using his remote.

“While I was screaming for help, one of the men repeatedly smashed my car’s window with a gun, forcing my wife to unlock the doors. They took my laptop, my wife’s wallet, which had R3 000 inside, her cellphone and wristwatch,” he said.

The couple reported the matter to the Central police station. On their way back to their flat in Scottsville they saw a man who looked like one of the robbers getting into a VW Golf. Lerato took down the vehicle’s number plate.

Later in their flat, she could not fall asleep. Toloane decided to go to the 24-hour Spar in Hayfields to buy headache tablets for her.

“On my way [to Spar] I met a metered taxi driver friend and told him about the incident. I also gave him the Golf’s registration number.

“About 45 minutes later he phoned to say I should come to a bar at the corner of West and Church streets with the police, as the Golf was parked there,” said Toloane.

At the bar the couple identified the man among the many patrons and he was arrested.

The second coincidence occurred on Friday. Toloane spotted the gunman in the company of two men at the corner of St Patrick’s and Alan Paton roads.

“I drove back to the flat to get my wife to see what I had just seen. We called the investigating officer, but he was not in the city,” he said.

Then as the couple were driving to a friend on Saturday afternoon, they again spotted the gunman walking towards Scottsville Mall, and immediately pulled into a parking bay to keep watch on him.

“I walked towards the mall, and a few minutes later [the gunman] walked out carrying groceries. I followed him to a building near the university and I called the investigating officer, who came with other police. A resident in the building took us to the [gunman’s] flat,” he said.

During the arrest, Toloane told the suspect he would drop the charges if he returned their possessions. “In the presence of the police he said he was going to organise to get my laptop back,” he said.

Budhram said Mkhize appeared in court on Friday and Bhidlia on Monday, and they will apply for bail tomorrow.

bhans@witness.co.za

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