Man gets 20 years for planning R1,2 mln heist

2011-03-30 00:00

A 37-YEAR-OLD man from Ladysmith who pleaded guilty to involvement in planning a R1,2 million armed robbery at a pension payout point at Somsuku, near Glencoe, on August 14, 2008, was yesterday sentenced to an effective 20 years’ imprisonment by the high court in Pietermaritzburg.

A guard, Menani Mphumuzeni Zulu, was shot dead during the robbery.

Judge Trevor Gorven, sitting with two assessors, found that although the offences were extremely serious and abhorrent, Khumbulani Collen Ndlovu’s circumstances were compelling and substantial, which warranted less than life imprisonment for the murder.

Ndlovu is the primary caregiver of his three young children, has expressed remorse and was believed capable of rehabilitation.

However, the judge said, there is no basis on which the court could impose anything other than a prison sentence.

“You are implored to take the opportunity offered to you for rehabilitation,” he told Ndlovu.

The court sentenced him to 12 years’ imprisonment for robbery with aggravating circumstances and 20 years for murder, and ordered that the sentences run concurrently.

The court ordered that Ndlovu must serve 13 years before he can be considered for parole.

Ndlovu’s advocate, Mergen Chetty, said Ndlovu is willing to testify against four co-accused who are standing trial for the same offences in Ladysmith.

In a statement read to the court Ndlovu said that during 2008 he was working for a cash loans company and used to visit the payout points on pension days in order to collect money that pensioners owed to the company.

As a result of these visits he and colleagues had started to talk about robberies that occurred at such pension points.

Initially the conversations were “ordinary”, but later they began to discuss how they could rob the payout point.

“At some stage we enlisted the help of others who would carry out the robbery … those of us planning the robbery would get a share of the spoils,” he said.

Ndlovu said that at a meeting held at the Wimpy in Ladysmith on August 13,2008, it was decided to rob Somsuku pension point the next day.

He was not present at the robbery, but was told later that it had taken place and that a shootout occurred, as a result of which a guard was shot and killed.

He was also informed that R1 215 110 was taken, as well as motor vehicles and firearms from Cash Paymaster Services, South African Social Security Agency and Fidelity Guards.

The court was told Ndlovu did not receive any of the loot.

Judge Gorven said an aggravating feature of the crimes was that Ndlovu had known the robbery could involve gunfire and death and injury to people in the vicinity. These included those who were assigned to protect the pension point and elderly, frail pensioners who were unable to protect themselves or flee.

“The robbery was a crime of pure greed,” he added.

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