Shootout survivors tell court of foiled heist chaos

2015-04-29 00:00

CIVILIANS caught up in a street gun battle after a robber gang shot dead a security guard at Capitec bank in Richmond last January, have described their experiences in the Pietermaritzburg High Court.

They testified that they did not know where the shots that struck them came from.

Alleged members of the gang ­responsible for the foiled heist — Thulani Doncabe (40), Siboniso Mpanza (20) and Sandile Shongwe (34) — are on trial facing multiple charges before Judge Rishi Seegobin.

They have pleaded not guilty to all the charges and chose to remain silent.

Included among the charges are five of murder arising from the deaths of G4S security guard Sicelo Phungula, Richmond police sergeant Thamsanqa Zondi, and three alleged members of the robber gang — Andile Hlongwane, Siphithemba Mtshali and Senso ­Mtolo.

The gang members were killed during various ensuing gun battles with police.

The court has heard that Phungula and his colleague, Bhekumdeni Wilfred Dladla, arrived at Capitec bank to ­replenish the ATM with cash shortly before 5 pm on January 27 last year.

After Phungula entered the ATM ­cubicle with the money, two shots rang out, and Dladla testified that he saw two men with guns fleeing from the bank.

He chased after one man who sped off in a Toyota Corolla, but returned to the bank after a short while.

Assistant bank manager Niveshen Naidoo told the court yesterday that he locked the bank doors after hearing the shots and went to investigate.

He saw Phungula in the ATM cubicle, slumped against the wall. His hand was still holding the handle of the cash container.

Naidoo said the money bag was ­designed so that the guard kept a finger on a button, which if removed would cause the bag to implode.

In this case the bag did implode, staining the cash inside with dye.

The robbers abandoned the damaged money and fled.

Naidoo said Capitec bank is situated one block away from the Richmond police station.

He said he had not heard any more shooting after finding Phungula’s body as he had not taken notice.

The court heard that civilians outside the bank — Hlengiwe Jama, Musa Phiri, Phillip Ndairo, Jones King and Nonhle Khumalo — were shot and wounded, allegedly during an exchange of gunfire between police and the fleeing robbers.

King testified that he was struck by a bullet in his right eye and is now permanently blind in that eye.

He said he had gone to town to shop and did not know where the bullet that hit him came from. “I woke up in hospital,” he said.

Others said they had heard ­screaming and shouting and saw people running in the vicinity of an armoured vehicle parked outside the bank shortly before they were injured.

Salon owner Musa Phiri and a former farm worker, Nonhle Khumalo, survived gunshots to the chest, and Hlengiwe Jama was wounded in her hand.

The trial is proceeding.

Join the conversation! encourages commentary submitted via MyNews24. Contributions of 200 words or more will be considered for publication.

We reserve editorial discretion to decide what will be published.
Read our comments policy for guidelines on contributions. publishes all comments posted on articles provided that they adhere to our Comments Policy. Should you wish to report a comment for editorial review, please do so by clicking the 'Report Comment' button to the right of each comment.

Comment on this story
Comments have been closed for this article.

Inside News24

Traffic Alerts
There are new stories on the homepage. Click here to see them.


Create Profile

Creating your profile will enable you to submit photos and stories to get published on News24.

Please provide a username for your profile page:

This username must be unique, cannot be edited and will be used in the URL to your profile page across the entire network.


Location Settings

News24 allows you to edit the display of certain components based on a location. If you wish to personalise the page based on your preferences, please select a location for each component and click "Submit" in order for the changes to take affect.

Facebook Sign-In

Hi News addict,

Join the News24 Community to be involved in breaking the news.

Log in with Facebook to comment and personalise news, weather and listings.