Ex-Telkom men, cop on trial for bank plot

2009-02-03 00:00

Seven men from Gauteng are appearing in the Pietermaritzburg High Court before Judge Chris Nicholson on charges arising from a plan they allegedly hatched to break into Coin Cash Depot in Richards Bay to steal about R3 million on February 1, 2007.

They have pleaded not guilty to six charges, including the murder of an alleged accomplice, Nkosinathi Sydney Khumalo, who was shot dead by police at the scene after he allegedly confronted a Chubb guard with a gun.

Johannes Manganye (26), who had allegedly already entered the depot by forcing a burglar guard open, allegedly surrendered to the police.

Mpho Lebakeng (36) —then a policeman stationed at Sinoville in Pretoria — was allegedly listening on police radio and when the rest of the gang heard about the shooting and the arrest of Manganye, they decided to return to Pretoria.

Some were allegedly involved in a simultaneous break-in and kidnapping at Rhino Security in Richards Bay, which monitored the alarm system at the Coin Cash Depot.

Three of the accused — Lehlogonolo Magodielo (31), Collins Mashimbye (38) and Lucas Tsotsetsi (59) — were arrested at Mkuze. They allegedly had with them a variety of implements, including a Hitachi demolition hammer and three Makita grinders, which the court was told are commonly used to break into bank vaults.

The others, Bruce Tau (31), Philemon Mlambo (30) and Lebakeng (36), were arrested in Pretoria days later.

Superintendent Johannes Kemp, head of a task team established to investigate crimes against financial institutions, told the court that members of the gang would be responsible for de-activating the alarm systems.

To do this the gang had to know the unique telephonic “constitution” or code of the bank or depot.

The court heard that Magodielo and Tau had worked as technicians for Telkom SA in Pretoria.

Kemp said during a search of Tau’s house after his arrest, codes for 22 different banks and financial institutions around the country were found.

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