Alleged heist gang two to go on trial

2014-04-16 00:00

TWO alleged members of a heavily armed syndicate blamed for a bloody cash heist in Richmond are expected to go on trial in the Pietermaritzburg High Court shortly.

A security guard, policeman and three gang members were killed as the gang made their getaway on January 27.

The two, Thulani Doncabe (40) of Umlazi and Siboniso Mpanza (20) of KwaMashu, were yesterday served with a draft indictment detailing 22 charges of theft, robbery with aggravating circumstances, murder and attempted murder they are expected to face.

The case was postponed to May 15 for a high court trial date to be fixed.

The murder charges relate to the shooting of Group 4 Securicor Cash Services guard Sicelo Phungula, policeman and prince Thamsanqa Zondi (son of local Inkosi Nsikayezwe Zondi), as well as three alleged members of the robber gang — Andile Hlongwane, Siphithemba Mtshali and Senzo Mtolo — who were killed in gun battles with police in the wake of the heist at Capitec Bank.

The men are also charged with attempting to murder another guard, Bhekumdeni Dladla, who drove the cash vehicle, and civilians Hlengiwe Jama, Musa Phiri, Phillip Ndairo and Jones Kamowa King, who were caught in crossfire between the police and gang.

They are also charged with the attempted murder of 10 other police officers.

The state alleges that some time before the robbery, the accused and their co-conspirators formed a syndicate that planned to rob Group 4 Securicor Cash Services.

On the day in question, they armed themselves with guns including AK47 and R5 rifles, and handguns.

The gang struck after Dladla and Phungula arrived at Capitec Bank in the town centre at about 4.30 pm and Phungla went inside carrying a cash box containing R300 000 to fill the bank’s ATM.

When Phungula unlocked and entered the vault, some of the gang followed and opened fire on him, wounding him. At that stage the cash box imploded, letting off smoke and ink, which dyed the cash.

The gang fled, but Dladla and police, who were alerted by the gunfire, tried to stop them. During the ensuing gun fight in the streets, the civilian victims were injured.

Some of the robbers then lay in wait on a bend along the road in the Smozomeni area of Richmond for police who were chasing them.

As a police vehicle approached, they opened fire, killing Zondi and seriously wounding another officer, Sbonelo Mpandla.

One of the gang, Mtshali, was seriously wounded at the scene. Other assailants fled, but some were left behind.

Police continued to hunt for the robbers, and shoot-outs ensued at various locations during which the other two gang members were killed and the two accused were arrested.

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