5 men arrested for Boksburg heist claim they were strangled, suffocated, beaten by police

2018-05-21 17:48
The moment two cash-in-transit vans are blown up. (Screen grab)

The moment two cash-in-transit vans are blown up. (Screen grab) (Video supplied: Screen grab)

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2018-05-18 15:17

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The five men who were arrested for the dramatic cash-in-transit heist in Boksburg last week claim they were kicked, beaten and strangled by police officers following their arrest.

Paul Sibanda, 48, Thato Gaopantwe, 26, Sibusiso Khumalo, 34, Collen Hadebe, 42, and Thabo Molefe, 32, made their first appearance in the Boksburg Magistrate's Court on Monday afternoon.

They were brought to court, with their ankles cuffed, by a heavy police contingent.

The courtroom was lined with heavily armed officers for the duration of their appearance.

Gauteng Hawks spokesperson Captain Ndivhuwo Mulamu confirmed that none of the men were police officers as previously reported.  

They are charged with attempted murder, possession of unlicensed firearms and ammunition, robbery with aggravating circumstances, possession of explosives and malicious damage to property.

The heist happened on Atlas Road in Boksburg last week Thursday.

WATCH: Eyewitness captures explosions as cash-in-transit thieves strike

Police spokesperson Mavela Masondo said at the time that the alleged robbers blew up two G4S vans and fled with an undisclosed amount of money. At least eight people were injured.

Assaulted for 'lengthy periods'

Five men were later arrested in Denver, Johannesburg. Police recovered an AK47, an R4 rifle, a pistol, ammunition, detonators, commercial explosives and an undisclosed amount of money.

During their court appearance, lawyers representing the men told the court that they were assaulted by police officers.

Khumalo's lawyer Jacques Beukes told the court that his client was assaulted for "lengthy periods" estimated to be about six hours long.

Beukes said Khumalo was allegedly kicked, beaten with open hands and fists, and strangled in the police holding cells on Thursday evening.

Khumalo claimed that police had also suffocated him with a plastic bag.

"I was informed that police wanted him (Khumalo) to make a confession or statement or implicate other accused. He was also allegedly assaulted on Friday and threatened.

"You will see even after court you will come to the police cells," the lawyer said his client was told.

Case postponed

He said Khumalo elected not to have any contact with the police or the investigating officer unless his lawyer was present.

Hettie Groenewald, for Hadebe, also informed the court that her client was kicked and suffered injuries to his intestines, mouth and right leg.

Lawyer Wilson Mkhabela said Molefe was beaten and told the court "some injuries are not visible".

"The court can make observations to his right cheek. My client reserves his right not to make any confessions or pointing out to the police," Mkhabela said.

Prosecutor Maria Olivier asked that the matter be postponed for the police to verify the identification documents and addresses of the five men.

Olivier said there was a possibility that more accused could be added to the case.

Magistrate Hans Havenga denied Olivier's application to keep the men in police holding cells in Johannesburg.

Havenga said all five would be detained at the Boksburg Correctional Services and postponed the matter to May 28.  

On Sunday, police launched a manhunt for about eight armed suspects following a cash-in-transit heist at Southdale Shopping Centre, just outside the Johannesburg CBD.

It was believed that the driver was approached by about eight suspects who pointed at him with firearms‚ forcing him to open the cash van.

The suspects fled the scene with an undisclosed of money.

No arrests have yet been made.

Read more on:    saps  |  johannesburg  |  crime

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