Claims of police assault as bail hearing for 4 accused in Soweto cash-in-transit heist gets underway

2018-08-03 16:08
(Duncan Alfreds, News24, file)

(Duncan Alfreds, News24, file)

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One of the four men who were arrested following a cash-in-transit heist in Dobsonville, Soweto, claims that they were "abused and assaulted" by police officers.

Zakhele Zondi, 37, took the stand during their bail application in the Roodepoort Magistrate's Court on Friday afternoon.

He appeared alongside his co-accused, former ANC employee Errol Velile Present, Itumeleng Manama and Bheki Biyela.

Earlier, the court dismissed their application for access to police dockets.  

Zondi was arrested at his home in Soweto in July. He was with his girlfriend at the time.  

"They only came and demanded firearms. It shocked me," he told the court. 

Not informed about rights, claims accused

During the first thirty minutes of his testimony, Zondi appeared calm but was repeatedly asked to speak louder. 

He claimed that the police did not show him a search warrant and did not inform him about his rights. 

Following his arrest, police allegedly took him to a place where he was showed "some cars" and told: "These were the cars you used in the robbery."

His lawyer Brighton Hlayisani Taula asked: "Do you know any of the cars there?" 

Zondi replied: "I know nothing about the cars." 

He claimed he was not informed about fingerprints found on the vehicles.

Taula then asked: "Where did you go afterwards?"

"They were driving around with us the whole night and we were being abused and assaulted till the morning." 

No passport

They were told that they faced charges of robbery and possession of suspected stolen vehicles.

"Did they find you in possession of a suspected stolen vehicle?" Taula asked. 

He softly replied: "No."

Earlier, Zondi told the court that he was a South African citizen and hadn't traveled outside of the country. He said he did not own a passport.   

He said he obtained a diploma in public relations through the University of South Africa in 2003.  

Zondi claimed that he had worked at President Hyper from 2009-2011 and later joined Maxxis from 2011-2016 as a general manager but was later retrenched. 

Attempted murder conviction

In 2016, he started a construction company called Men on the Move, where he worked as a director. 

He said he earned R7 500 a month. 

The father of two said he had no fixed assets and could only afford bail of R3 000.  

In 2002, Zondi was convicted of attempted murder and sentenced to 11-years direct imprisonment. 

However, in 2009 he was released on parole after serving seven years behind bars. There are no pending cases against him. 

Zondi said he intended to plead not guilty and did not consider himself a danger to the community.

He however declined to answer about his whereabouts on July 5 when the robbery took place. 

Zondi also told the court that he has a sick mother and sister who is dependent on him. 

The matter was postponed to August 17.

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Read more on:    crime  |  courts  |  cash heists

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