Pension robbers get stiff sentences

2011-07-29 00:00

FOUR men involved in a robbery at Impendle post office during which a pensioner and a security guard were shot and wounded on September 1, 2008, were handed effective sentences of 22 years’ and 27 years’ imprisonment by high court Judge Wendy Hughes-Madondo yesterday.

Passing sentence, the judge said that although the robbery had been planned, the plans were “flawed, ill-conceived and one might say idiotic and reckless”.

She said the accused were also brazen to commit the robbery right next door to the police station, demonstrating their disregard for the country’s law enforcement agency.

Mcabangeni Xaba (49) of Richmond received the higher sentence of 27 years’ imprisonment because he has a previous conviction for armed robbery for which he is already serving 12 years.

Khulekani Ndlovu (31) of Durban was also sentenced to an effective 27 years because in addition to the charges of robbery, attempted murder and illegal possession of a firearm and ammunition in the post office hold-up, he was also found guilty on a further count of theft of the bakkie that was used as a getaway vehicle.

Mudemude Memela (55) and Mthoko Mokoena (27), both of Durban, were each jailed for an effective 22 years.

Judge Hughes-Madondo took into account their personal circumstances and that each of them had already served three years in prison awaiting trial. But she found that the aggravating circumstances in the case outweighed the mitigating features.

She said the accused all told improbable stories.

They had armed themselves knowing full well they would use the firearms to achieve their goal.

The judge said the purpose of the Arms and Ammunitions Act is to prevent the proliferation of illegal firearms and their use.

As a result of the accused carrying arms, violence ensued and innocent people were shot.

Judge Hughes-Madondo said she regarded the injuries sustained by the victims — pensioner Alexia Mncwabe and security guard Sbongiseni Mkhulisi — as serious.

Mncwabe was innocently collecting her pension when she was shot and wounded.

Her evidence was that a bullet is still lodged in her body and she is on medication.

She also now walks with a walking stick.

Mkhulisi is unable to use his wrist effectively as a result of being shot in the hand. He has had a pin inserted into his ring finger and lost the use of two fingers.

The judge said crimes were committed out of sheer greed and not need.

The accused were all employed at the time yet they were prepared to leave their homes and travel a distance to deprive the elderly of their money.

Due to the nature of the crimes, the callousness and the seriousness of their actions the interests of society had to be considered as more important than those of the accused, she said.

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