Move to acquit cop in cash heist case fails

2013-11-13 00:00

AN application to acquit Ladysmith policeman Siyabonga Mkwanyana at his trial in which he is charged with four other men for a 2009 KwaZulu-Natal cash heist, was yesterday refused by a high court judge.

Mkwanyana, Jerody Mthimunye (37), Philemon Nhleko (38), Ewat Ndubuko, and Zikethela Sokhela (30), are facing three charges of murder, one of attempted murder, two of robbery with aggravating circumstances and theft.

They have pleaded not guilty and raised alibi defences during the case, which has already spanned many months.

A sixth accused, Mandla Moloi, was freed recently after the state decided to withdraw the case against him.

The charges the accused face arise from an attack on a G4 security vehicle, which was deliberately rammed into with an allegedly stolen truck on the N11 between Newcastle and Ladysmith on August 30, 2009.

The robbers used explosives to blast open the back of the vehicle and access the money.

Security guards George van Tonder and Sibusiso Phakathi were killed, along with an alleged co-perpetrator of the heist, Ottoman Msimango.

Another security guard, Johannes Mokoena, survived the crash and explosion.

The gang escaped with R692 132 in a hijacked vehicle belonging to Deborah Shabalala, who came upon the robbery by chance while it was in progress.

Mkwanyana, who was a police sergeant stationed at Ladysmith at the time of the incident, is allegedly linked to the crimes through circumstantial evidence, including cellphone records.

These are alleged by the state to show he was in contact at critical times with an alleged mastermind of the heist, Xolani Mswane, who was killed during a subsequent shoot-out with police.

His attorney Ishi Khan yesterday brought an application before Judge Anton van Zyl and two assessors at the close of the state’s case, asking the court to discharge Mkwanyana without placing him on his defence.

The judge refused the application, saying at this stage the court was not satisfied that there is no possibility that he could be convicted.

The case is proceeding.

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