Robbery colonel hands self in

2013-10-23 10:33

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Johannesburg - A military colonel who committed an armed robbery at an Eastern Cape police station 18 years ago, has handed himself over to the military police, the defence department said on Wednesday.

Brigadier General Xolani Mabanga said Colonel Nceba Patrick Bobelo reported to the joint operations headquarters in Pretoria on Tuesday afternoon.

"Arrangements were made for him to be taken by the military police. The military police then consulted with the correctional services department and the police for him to be handed over," Mabanga said.

"The correctional services officials from Pretoria indicated that he [Bobelo] had to serve his sentence in the Eastern Cape. They were discussing the modalities of having him transferred."

Disappeared from Mbombela home

Mabanga said there were no indications that Bobelo was trying to evade arrest or that he was trying to run away because he handed himself over.

On Tuesday, Eastern Cape police spokesperson Colonel Sibongile Soci said a warrant of arrest has been issued and police are looking for Bobelo.

Beeld reported on Tuesday that Bobelo disappeared from his Mbombela home in Mpumalanga before police could arrest him.

According to the report, indications were that Bobelo was trying to evade arrest. Soci told the newspaper Bobelo was not considered a fugitive.

Bobelo's appeal against his prison sentence failed in 2001, but neither the army nor the justice department were able to explain why Bobelo, commander of the military's joint tactical headquarters in Mpumalanga, had avoided jail.

Advanced rank

In 1995, he was one of four defendants convicted of robbing the Ntabethemba police station in the Eastern Cape. Two policemen were attacked and several firearms were stolen.

The four were sentenced to 12 years in prison each, of which three years were conditionally suspended.

One of the four appealed successfully in 2001, but Bobelo and the other two were ordered to start serving their jail terms immediately.

Bobelo, however, spent the next 12 years being advanced to the rank of colonel.

Following a Beeld report two months ago on Bobelo's involvement in the robbery, the National Prosecuting Authority in the Eastern Cape received a query from the SA National Defence Force to determine why Bobelo had not served his sentence. The warrant for his arrest was then issued.
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