Two murders added to ATM bomber suspects’ charges

2013-01-23 00:00

THE trial of nine men suspected of a string of ATM bombings in KwaZulu-Natal has been transferred to the Pietermaritzburg Regional Court for more charges — including two of murder — to be brought against them.

Ten men were arrested in connection with the bombings, but charges against one of them were withdrawn during a hearing in the Howick Magistrate’s Court yesterday as there was insufficient evidence against him.

Heavily armed police took their places in court before the men were ushered in.

The media and relatives of the accused were ordered to leave the hearing, which took place in camera, apparently after publication of the men’s pictures with their faces blurred, contrary to a request from the investigating team.

The nine, aged between 20 and 40, are charged with the attempted murder of Tafadwa Chapwanya, who lived across the road from a Nottingham Road FNB ATM the gang is accused of bombing in September last year.

He was shot in the stomach while inside his house.

They are also charged with the attempted murder of Alex Zondi, who was shot in the leg while driving his car during an ATM bombing in Howick the following month.

The men allegedly stole R241 000 from the Howick ATM, R214 000 from the Nottingham Road ATM and R153 000 from an Absa ATM bombed in Merrivale in November, for which they face charges of theft.

They also face counts of malicious damage to property for the damage done in the bombings.

The charge sheet presented in court yesterday indicates that the men, who will be back in court on February 7, will also be charged with two murders, one in Greytown and one in Utrecht.

KwaZulu-Natal National Prosecuting Authority spokesperson Natasha Ramkissoon said the decision to hold a hearing in camera and not allow the media into a court could be made only by the magistrate.

“The prosecution must follow the order made by the magistrate,” she said.

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