KZN 26 heist gang men argue they weren’t at one of the crimes and should be acquitted

2015-09-14 12:41

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Pietermaritzburg - A full bench of the KwaZulu-Natal high court, which includes Judge President Achmat Jappie, has reserved judgment in an application by members of the so-called “KZN 26” cash heist gang found guilty of committing two brazen robberies in northern KZN in 2006.

The two robberies in which Fidelity Guards cash vehicles were rammed into by luxury cars, took place on the same day and almost the same time, 30km apart. They occurred on October 2, 2006 at Charters Creek and Penicuik (near Kwambonambi) on the N2.

Twenty-six accused subsequently stood trial at Pongola in what proved to be one of the longest running court cases in the province, lasting around six years.

During the trial one of the accused died and another — Percy Kunene — was acquitted at the end of it.

The other 24 were convicted and are serving life terms plus additional lengthy jail terms imposed for a total of 30 offences.

Offences associated with the cash heists included the murder of a security guard, kidnapping, vehicle hijacking, theft of motor vehicles and the attempted murders of crew members in cash vehicles, guards and policemen who happened on the scene of the robberies.

Judge Jan Combrink (now retired) referred in his judgment in 2012 to the “monumental proportions” the trial took on, involving a record of over 7 000 pages , 12 000 pages of documentary exhibits and a “host” of physical exhibits.

At Charters Creek the robbers got away with R1.6 million, but at Penicuik they were not able to get hold of any cash.

The court found that although it could not be proved that any of the accused were physically present at Penicuik, the total evidence proved they were part of a common purpose to commit both heists.

Advocate Fanie Slabbert, who argued Friday’s appeal before Judges Jappie, Gregory Kruger and Pete Koen on behalf of 10 of the accused, said as there was no evidence they were present at the incident at Penicuik, or linking them via cellphones, they ought to be acquitted of all charges relating to that robbery.

He said it was reasonably possible the Penicuik robbery was committed by a different group altogether.

The full bench has also been asked to re-examine the sentences imposed, and to have regard to the “difficult circumstances” under which all the accused were detained.

Read more on:    pietermaritzburg  |  heists  |  crime

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