Life terms for ATM bombers

2016-10-21 11:13
Murder victim Constable Vidhur Jadoo.

Murder victim Constable Vidhur Jadoo. (File)

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The ATM bomber gang members convicted of multiple crimes, including the murder of Pieter­maritzburg Constable Vidhur Jadoo (37), had no regard for human life.

This was said by Judge Yvonne Mbatha when she sentenced nine convicted bombers to three life sentences each for the murders.

Fighting back tears, Jadoo’s widow, Ashreena, said the sentence has brought her some closure.

“It has been a long four years and I am glad it is over. I have had a good support system and the SAPS Dog Unit members have really been there for me,” she said.

Ashreena said she and her late husband were two weeks away from celebrating their third wedding anniversary when he was shot dead on November 7, 2012. The couple had no children.

Judge Mbatha found each of the nine men were part of a syndicate responsible for blasting five ATMs in KZN and shooting at anyone who got in their way.

She said the bombings had led to the murders of three innocent people — Jadoo, and civilians Bongokuhle Nkosi and Sizwe Gule at Utrecht.

She said it was a “miracle” that other people survived the attacks carried out with high calibre weapons like AK47 machine rifles. “The main motive for the crimes and the killing of these people was greed as they wanted to get their hands on money in the ATMs that did not belong to them,” the judge said.

She said Jadoo was killed while backing up his colleagues who were “under siege”. He and officer Livingstone Mpangase (of the SAPS Dog Unit) were ambushed.

Mpangase had described how a volley of rifle bullets came at them as they drew parallel with the gang’s van while they were in a marked police vehicle.

Mpangase has resigned from the SAPS.

Nkosi and Gule were shot in their car after stopping near a Caltex garage hit by the bombers. Nkosi died at the scene and Gule in hospital.

The judge said CCTV footage of the ATM bomb scenes resembled a “war zone”.

“I have also noted that all the people killed or injured just happened to be in the wrong place at the wrong time … shots were not fired to warn them or to persuade them to move back. Instead a volley of bullets was directed at these innocent victims,” said Judge Mbatha.

At Nottingham Road an attempted murder victim, Tafadzwa Chapwanya, was shot for “peeping” through a door, and Alex Ndlovu, a security guard in Greytown, was shot at while the gang was already getting away.

The Zondi family in Howick, (Alex, Thulisile and their son, Philani) also faced an “onslaught of gunfire” for being in the wrong place at the wrong time, said the judge.

“The ruthlessness of the accused cannot be compared to anything save to say that they have no regard for human life,” she said.

Apart from the cash stolen, the damage caused to property by the blasts ran to millions of rands.

The judge said when the legislature enacted minimum sentences in 1997 the country was inundated with heists of armoured vans. “Now the new kid on the block is the ATM bomb,” she said.

She said these crimes were also premediated, well planned and organised.

She said she agreed with state advocate Dorian Paver that the aggravating factors outweighed the personal circumstances of the men, and said there was no reason to impose less than the minimum terms.

The nine were given leave to appeal their convictions and sentences.

The convicted men are: Thembela Ngubane (30), Menziwa Mdakane (32), Sifiso Mdakane (35), Sifiso Khubeka (34), Sibongeni Msibi (36), Sphelele Dubazane (30), Siphiwe Mabizela (37), Muthikabani Buthelezi (34) and Mthenjwa Buthelezi (30). Lungisani Dladla (32) was acquitted.

Read more on:    court case  |  pietermaritzburg

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