Howick Falls: Robbery pair freed of rape charges

2009-02-05 00:00

Two young men who faced charges of involvement in a crime spree at Howick Falls on July 15, 2007, were yesterday found guilty of one charge of robbery with aggravating circumstances and acquitted of all other counts.

Thabani Ndlovu (20) and Nkosinathi Mjiyako (23) were charged with three counts of robbery with aggravating circumstances, one of incitement to rape, one of indecent assault and one of rape.

The pair were charged with a third accused who pleaded guilty and whose trial was separated from theirs.

Judge Leona Theron ruled yesterday that the state succeeded only in proving one count of robbery with aggravating circumstances against the two accused.

The charges arose from an incident in which a group of young people were held up at gunpoint and robbed of cellphones and wallets while picnicking and fishing at Howick Falls on the day.

The two men were not found guilty of the allegedly related sexual offences, to which their former co-accused, Siyabonga Dalas Cele, pleaded guilty last week.

Cele was jailed for 35 years in connection with six charges by Judge Chris Nicholson and gave evidence for the prosecution against Ndlovu and Mjiyako.

Judge Theron found that the court could rely on Cele's evidence only when it was corroborated by that of other witnesses.

She said that when Cele gave evidence for the state - his evidence differed in a number of respects from that of other witnesses - the court could not rule out the possibility that he may have embellished his testimony in order to ensure that Ndlovu and Mjiyako were also convicted.

On the robbery count, of which they were found guilty, there was additional evidence linking Ndlovu and Mjiyako to the offence.

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