Tycoon plans to sue state

2016-03-29 10:27


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Pietermaritzburg - A businessman who spent three months in prison in connection with a R16,3 million foreign currency heist in Pietermaritzburg plans to sue the state after the robbery charge against him was withdrawn last week.

Pietermaritzburg attorney Srish Partab, of Subash Maikoo & Associates, told The Witness the charge against Zimbabwean-born Herman Thuthani Ndlovu(38) was withdrawn at court on March 24 on the instructions of KZN’s director of public prosecutions (DPP).

Following his arrest on October 14 last year, Ndlovu was denied bail by a Pietermaritzburg magistrate. He appealed to the high court and on January 6 this year was granted bail of R50 000 by Judge Jerome Mnguni.

Partab said Ndlovu has instructed him to launch a civil claim for damages against the state for alleged unlawful arrest and detention as it was “always his version that the investigating officer arrested him due to the fact that his vehicle was seen around the vicinity of Oribi Airport on the day of the incident”.

“The investigating officer still holds Ndlovu’s passport, identity document, as well as his Toyota Corolla motor vehicle. However, I have been instructed to immediately take all necessary steps to recover these items from the investigating officer,” said Partab.

Ndlovu was arrested in connection with a slick cash-in-transit heist in which a Brinks SA Armoured vehicle was robbed of R16,3 million in foreign currency on May 28 last year near Pietermaritzburg’s Oribi Airport.

In his affidavit in support of his application for bail, Ndlovu, who is from Gauteng, said he was the owner of two businesses — Thuthani Transport Pty Ltd and Classic Hair Salon — from which he drew a salary of around R50 000 per month. He is a widower with five children to support.

In his affidavit he listed assets worth around R1 million but also acknowledged debts of around the same amount.

Ndlovu said he intended to plead not guilty to the charges.

The robbery, which was carried out in a brazen manner, made headlines, and he is the only known suspect to have appeared in court in connection with the case.

Describing the incident in an affidavit filed at Ndlovu’s bail hearing, Warrant Officer Nelson Naicker said the Brinks SA armoured vehicle — a Toyota Hilux double cab — had picked up three bags of foreign currency at Oribi Airport at 8 am and set off to deliver the money to various banks. In Oribi Road, a Toyota Fortuner rammed into the armoured vehicle and several assailants confronted the three security officials.

They were armed with AK47s and other firearms.

Two attackers used a pick and a hammer to smash the armoured glass of one of the doors at the back open.

The attackers then poured petrol on to the Brinks SA vehicle and threatened to burn it if the officers did not open the doors. Security officers eventually succumbed to the threats and opened the doors.

The attackers forced the three officers to lie on the road. The driver of the Brinks SA vehicle was assaulted in the process, and petrol was poured on to one of the other security officers. The third sustained injuries to his neck as a result of the deliberate ramming of the vehicle.

The gang escaped with the guards’ firearms, cellphones and bags of foreign currency.

Two getaway vehicles used by the robbers were later found abandoned in Bisley.

Naicker said at the time an accomplice would testify about Ndlovu’s involvement in the incident.

He also alleged that Ndlovu’s cellphone records and data from his vehicle tracker system placed him at the scene of the crime.

In additio, he said that Ndlovu had been found in possession of two identity documents and had allegedly fraudulently obtained South African citizenship.

But in his response Ndlovu alleged that when he first came to SA, Home Affairs had incorrectly issued him with an identity book reflecting that he was a SA citizen. After losing the book the department had discovered the error and thereafter issued him with a new identity book and number, he said.

Read more on:    pietermaritzburg  |  court

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