Capitec robbery: four accused released on bail

2016-03-18 12:00
ATMs may undergo a transformation when they are equipped with fingerprint readers. (Duncan Alfreds, News24)

ATMs may undergo a transformation when they are equipped with fingerprint readers. (Duncan Alfreds, News24)

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Pietermaritzburg - Four men charged with a R332 000 armed robbery at Capitec Bank in the city last month were granted bail ­ranging from R4 000 to R15 000 on  Thursday.

Magistrate Y. Khuzwayo found that the “personal circumstances of the ­accused outweighed the interests of justice”, and said the four men were entitled to bail.

Velaphi Milton Sibiya (47) of Durban, and Nkosinathi Sibisi (46), of Mpumalanga township, were granted bail of R15 000 each, Thembani Dongwe (29) was given R10 000 bail and Thandinkosi Ngema (38) of Imbali was granted R4 000 bail.

The men are charged with committing a mid-morning robbery at Capitec Bank at Symons Centre in central Pietermaritzburg on February 8 this year.

The charge sheet alleges that they put a gun to the head of Mphiliseni Khawula (of G4S Security) and robbed him of his firearm and a cash box containing R332 000.

Police had arrested five suspects in connection with the hold-up, and reportedly seized ink-stained bank notes, firearms and ammunition. However, only the four men before court were charged, while the fifth turned State witness.

One of the concerns raised by the prosecution in opposing bail was that the four might interfere with the State witness, whose evidence is regarded as crucial in the State’s case.

However, attorney Phumlani Fakude revealed yesterday that the accomplice himself is facing another armed robbery charge and appeared in court on Wednesday. He was remanded until next week.

“He shared a cell at court with my clients and their co-accused. They are in prison together and they did not interfere with him,” he said.

Khuzwayo agreed with the defence submissions that this rebuffed the State’s allegations that the four men would interfere with the witness.

She said only Sibisi and Ngema had recent previous convictions that were relevant.

Ngema was found guilty of armed robbery and was on parole when he allegedly became involved in the Capitec robbery.

However, Khuzwayo said while there was “always a fear” that the accused might commit further offences while on bail, or abscond as they were facing heavy sentences if found guilty, in the present case there was no evidence to support these fears.

She said the State’s case did not appear to be strong, and was almost entirely based on the anticipated evidence of the accomplice. But the evidence of accomplices has to be treated with caution, she said.

Khuzwayo said ink-stained notes found among cash recovered from Sibiya and Sibisi had not yet been linked to the Capitec robbery.

Similarly, two allegedly illegal firearms and ammunition recovered from two of the accused had not been linked to the robbery.

Read more on:    pietermaritzburg  |  crime  |  court  |  robbery

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