Capitec heist trial hears of pursuit, shootings

2015-05-11 07:57


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A POLICE dog tracked down three suspects who fled into a sugar cane field in the Phatheni area in the wake of the attempted cash heist at Capi­tec bank in Richmond last January, the high court heard on Friday.

One suspect was shot and wounded by police after he attempted to shoot the dog (Simba) and its ­handler, Warrant Officer Reeno ­Dayaram.

The man, identified as Senzo Mtolo, died later in an ambulance en route to hospital.

Dayaram identified the other two suspects found hiding in the sugar cane, as two of the of the accused before court — Thulani Doncabe (40) of Umlazi and Siboniso Mpanza (20) of KwaMashu.

Dayaram said he’d searched unsuccessfully for a fourth suspect who was seen fleeing into the cane field, but had to abandon the search as his dog had been unable to pick up his scent.

The court was told that another gang member — identified in court only by the name “Bhokobhoko” — was arrested in the same area whilst “leaning” against the gang’s getaway bakkie and nursing a gunshot wound to his leg.

The bakkie was parked in the middle of the road at the point where the other attackers were seen fleeing into the sugar cane.”

The court heard “Bhokobhoko” died at the scene where he was held under police guard.

Richmond detective Sergeant Sandile Magubane told the court that as he turned off onto the gravel road in the Patheni area he saw the suspects’ bakkie stop up ahead and four of the occupants jump out and flee.

He rushed to the scene, stopping en route to pick up some members of the Public Order Policing Unit.

They found the bakkie parked in the road with the doors standing open, whilst Bhokobhoko leaned against the vehicle.

Magubane said he’d recognised Bhokobhoko from photographs he’d seen of wanted suspects when he was working on various police task teams.

He ordered him to lie on the ground and handcuffed him.

He then inspected the vehicle, found blood on the tailgate and an AK47 rifle with a magazine and a AK47 cartridges in the bin.

Magubane said he’d given the dog unit members a description of the clothing worn by the four suspects who ran into the sugar cane. Dayaram, together with his dog, and other colleagues immediately set off in pursuit.

Dayaram testified that before entering the sugar cane plantation he’d shouted a warning to anyone hiding there to come out, but to no avail.

His dog located the first suspect about 100 metres inside the dense sugar cane plantation. The man screamed as he was bitten, stood up and fired a shot at the police dog but missed.

“I pulled my dog back and the suspect then fired one shot in my direction,” said Dayaram.

He said he and a colleague had returned fire and the suspect fell to the ground. The police recovered his Z88 pistol and a yellow hat with a cellphone in it.

This was the suspect, who later died, who was identified as Senzo Mtolo.

Dayaram said he continued searching and his dog then apprehended Mpanza who was “lying low” in the sugar cane. After Mpanza was handcuffed and handed over to colleagues he’d resumed tracking more suspects.

“I came out of the sugar cane and my dog pulled me towards the river … there he apprehended a suspect [Doncabe] lying in the bush,” he said.

Dayaram said both Doncabe and Mpanza had been bitten by his dog during the course of their arrests.

The two men — who are on trial together with a third accused, Sandile Shongwe — have pleaded not guilty to multiple charges.

They are charged with five counts of murder (including three of their own gang), as well as robbery with aggravating circumstances, theft and attempted murder arising from the incident in the late afternoon of­ January 27 last year.

The robbers shot dead G4S security guard, Sicelo Phungula at the scene at the bank, but abandoned the cash after the container imploded, staining the money with red dye.

Richmond policeman, Sergeant Thami Zondi was shot dead while in pursuit of the attackers.

The trial is proceeding

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