‘Houdini’ cash heist man gets 89 years

2011-03-04 00:00

CASH-IN-TRANSIT robber Sibusiso Mzimela (35) of Ngwelezane was jailed effectively for 89 years by Judge Isaac Madondo in the high court yesterday.

Madondo ordered that Mzimela could be considered for parole after serving at least 25 years.

He told Mzimela he has only himself to blame for his predicament.

Mzimela was convicted of multiple charges arising from a cash heist at Nkandla on December 17, 2005, during which a group of armed men ambushed members of Mfezi Security collecting cash from businesses. While the vehicle was en route to Melmoth the assailants followed it and then opened fire. When they realised it was not going to stop a Mercedes Benz was used to ram the van off the road.

The robbers used an axe to hack open the back of the vehicle and removed all the cash boxes and money bags. They fled after hijacking a motorist who happened on the scene, Langelakhe Dunge.

While awaiting trial, Mzimela escaped four times. He pleaded guilty to three escapes and not guilty to one of the escapes — from Ngwelezane hospital where he and a co-assailant were taken for medical treatment on June 18, 2006. He was convicted of all four counts, for which he received an effective eight years’ imprisonment.

Mzimela’s former co-accused in the case, Dumisani Shandu (33), who was rearrested on Monday following his escape from Westville Prison in February last year, also appeared in the Pietermaritzburg high court this week.

His trial, on the same charges as Mzimela, was postponed to June 13.

Shandu was one of eight awaiting trial prisoners who broke out of their seventh-floor cell in Durban’s Westville prison last February.

Among them was the canefields serial killer Thozamile Taki, who failed to get away after he injured himself during the escape bid.

The other prisoners, including Shandu, escaped from Medium A section by sawing through a steel door and grill gates and using bed sheets made into a rope to slide to freedom. Some escaped in a BMW waiting outside the prison, and others fled on foot.

An inquiry was held into collusion between the prisoners and Correctional Services officials.

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