Two in ‘kamikaze’ N11 gang guilty

2014-01-07 00:00

A PIETERMARITZBURG high court judge has so far ruled that two of the five men on trial for a cash heist on the N11 near Ladysmith in 2009, had participated in the kamikaze-style robbery in which three people died.

Judge Anton van Zyl yesterday began delivering his judgment against the five men facing multiple charges of murder, attempted murder, endangering property, malicious injury to property and robbery with aggravating circumstances.

A total of R692 132 was robbed after a G4 security vehicle had been rammed and the van’s safe blasted open.

G4 security van driver George van Tonder, a security guard, Sibusiso Phakathi, and an alleged member of the robber gang, Ottoman Mhlekaze, died of injuries they suffered when they deliberately collided head-on with the cash van a Toyota Dyna truck, shoving it off the highway between Newcastle and Ladysmith on October 10, 2009.

Another guard, Johannes Mokoena, was injured.

The crash and explosion was witnessed by a motorist who was driving behind the truck when it suddenly veered into the path of the oncoming G4 van.

When the motorist realised a robbery was in progress he made a U-turn, sped away from the scene and alerted police at the Elandslaagte police station.

Judge van Zyl made his intentions clear at the start of his judgment, which he began by cancelling bail of the only accused who wasn’t already awaiting the outcome in custody, Jerody Mthimunye (34).

Later in his judgment Van Zyl ruled that by virtue of pointings out and admissions made by Mthimunye and a co-accused, Philemon Nhleko (38), as well as their cellphone records, the court was satisfied that both of them were part of the robber gang and were present at the robbery scene.

He accepted the evidence of a nurse, Deborah Shabalala, who arrived on the accident scene by chance and who identified Nhleko as being among the perpetrators she saw there.

He said even though Shabalala had testified that she sometimes shut her eyes whilst praying during her ordeal, she had seen Nhleko at close quarters and without any disguise when he ordered her out of her car and demanded her car keys.

The judge has still to make specific findings relating to the individual charges that Mthimunye and Nhleko are guilty of as the judgment continues today.

Judge van Zyl also has not yet made specific findings about the involvement of the other three accused on trial — Ewat Ndubuko (age unknown), Zikethela Sokhela (30), and a police sergeant from Ladysmith, Siyabonga Nkwanyana (39).

The case is proceeding.

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