Accused turns on accomplices

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Mbombela - A Mpumalanga man accused of participating in a robbery in which a security guard was killed six years ago has testified against his co-accused.

Victor Mathebula, 25, testified in the Nelspruit Circuit of the Pretoria High Court on Tuesday about his involvement in robberies in Bushbuckridge on December 6 and 7, 2007, a Sapa correspondent reported.

Mathebula and Mahlatsi Gian Matsane, 24, Beanen Mpho Matsane, 31, Obbey Seerane, 25, and Socha Sunday Mokoena, 24, have pleaded not guilty.

They are charged with murder, housebreaking with intent to commit robbery, robbery with aggravating circumstances, and unlawful possession of firearms and ammunition. Charges against another State witness, Noel Mashele, 26, were withdrawn.

The court heard that on December 6 around 10.30pm, a gang of six men arrived at a shop at a Shell garage in Thulamahashe. One of them broke open the shop's door using an iron bar. They robbed the shop and escaped with the tills containing cash.

Around 1.15am on December 7, they arrived at a filling station in Hluvukani village outside Thulamahashe with the intention to rob it. After finding workers asleep, they woke them up and said they wanted to buy petrol and airtime, but then robbed them of cellphones, money, and a firearm. During the robbery, a woman was severely assaulted and a security guard, Eckson Malumane, was shot dead.

Mathebula testified he was there when the two crimes were committed, but said he did not take part.

“I was in company of the five men. I did not know what their intention was. I was surprised when they robbed the two filling stations and shot the man,” Mathebula testified.

The other four accused refused to testify. Justice Ronel Tolmay warned them about the danger of remaining silent when there was overwhelming evidence against them.

Tolmay said the men were together in the car and acted in common purpose.

“After the incident at the first filling station in (Thulamahashe), they all drove in the same vehicle. They went to a second one in Hluvukani, where a second robbery occurred and someone got killed.

State prosecutor JJ Jacobs asked the court to find all five men guilty on all the counts they faced.

Tolmay postponed the case to Wednesday for judgment.


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