Gang’s bail plea denied

2014-07-24 00:00

NINE of an 11-member gang who terrorised Pietermaritzburg, Durban and Estcourt by stealing cars will remain in police custody.

Pietermaritzburg high court judge Piet­ Koen refused the men’s appeal against a magistrate’s earlier decision to deny them bail. He only upheld the appeals of two men.

The alleged car theft syndicate members are Ian Williams, Siyanda Tsotsane, Ndumiso Ntshangase, Siyanda Mkhize, Nathi Hlela, Siyabonga Thobaleni Dlamini, Sibongiseni Marken, Lwazi ­Xulu, Sandile Shezi, Derrick Williams and Mduduzi Zondi.

Only Ian Williams and Derrick Williams were granted permission to apply for bail to another magistrate.

They are charged with a string of cases of theft of vehicles in Pietermaritzburg, Durban and Estcourt in recent years.

Warrant Officer Andrew Brown from the Directorate for Priority Crimes said in an affidavit that the theft of motor vehicles in Pietermaritzburg had dropped dramatically after they arrested the group in February this year.

In February 2012, 61 vehicles were stolen while the number dropped to 26 in February 2014.

Brown said there is a huge possibility that the men would destroy evidence, such as court documents and charge sheets, because of their links to police and state officials in Pietermaritzburg and Durban. They could also intimidate witnesses, he said.

An investigation was launched in 2011 following an outcry that Toyota and Volkswagen Polo vehicles were being stolen in Pietermaritzburg at an “alarming rate”.

Police opted to use the undercover “Operation Mojo”, which had the approval of the Director of Public Prosecutions.

Brown said the men were not linked to the stolen and recovered vehicles via fingerprints as undercover video recordings show that they used gloves when driving or touching the inside of the stolen vehicles. They would also wipe the vehicles down before handing them over to buyers.

The men will be back in court on ­August 21.

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