Richmond heist trial opens

2014-11-17 00:00

THREE men go on trial in the Pietermaritzburg High Court tomorrow on multiple charges of murder, robbery and attempted murder arising from a botched cash heist at Capitec Bank in Richmond in January.

Judge Thoba Poyo-Dlwati on Friday refused an application by one of the accused, Sandile Shongwe (34) — who is on bail — for a longer postponement. She said this would not be in the interests of his co-accused, Thulani Doncabe (40) and Siboniso Mpanza (20) who are in custody.

Judge Poyo-Dlwati said all three accused had at least three months to prepare for their trial, and were aware all along that the case had been set down to start on November 10.

In the circumstances, she agreed to postpone the case only until tomorrow to give Shongwe time to resolve issues surrounding his legal representation.

A security guard from Group 4 Cash Services (Securicor), Sicelo Phungula, SA police sergeant Thamsanqa Zondi and three armed robbers — Andile Hlongwane, Siphithemba Mtshali and Senso Mtolo — were killed during and after the incident at Capitec Bank.

The indictment alleges the gang knew they would attract violent resistance from guards and police and had prepared to tackle this problem by arming themselves with AK-47 rifles, R5 rifles and handguns.

They accepted that people could be killed, including members of their own gang.

The state alleges the robbers knew the bank’s ATMs were linked to alarm systems, and that the Richmond police station was a very short distance away from Capitec Bank, when they planned the heist.

It alleges that the gang — using two stolen cars — kept watch as Securicor guards, Bhekumdeni Wilfred Dladla (driver) and Phungula, arrived at the bank to both collect money and offload cash for the ATM.

Shortly after Phungula went inside with a cash box with R300 000 and opened the ATM vault door, he was shot dead.

The cash box imploded, emitting smoke, and dyed the cash with ink.

The robbers abandoned the money, but took Phungula’s gun before fleeing the scene.

Sergeant Zondi, the son of Inkosi Nsikayezwe Zondi, was shot in the head when the assailants set up an ambush for a bakkie full of police from Richmond police station who’d chased them from the scene of the robbery.

As the police bakkie came around a bend the gang opened fire, killing Zondi and wounding another policeman, Constable Sbonelo Mpandla.

The three gang members were shot and killed during ensuing gun battles with police, which finally ended in a sugar cane plantation.

Apart from the murder and robbery charges the accused are also charged with attempted murder of 10 police officers, as well as Dladla, and five civilians — Hlengiwe Jama, Musa Phiri, Phillip Ndairo, Jones Kamowa King and Nonhle Eunice Khumalo — who were caught in the crossfire near the bank.

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