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Johannesburg - A state witness who benefited to the tune of more than R1.2 million for her role in an armed robbery at OR Tambo International Airport has admitted to lying to the police to evade arrest.
She also described the state’s main witness, Nazir Ismail, as someone who cannot be trusted.
Rookaya Ebrahim made these revelations when she testified against the two remaining OR Tambo accused - brothers Shaheed and Rooshdeen Rudolph, during their trial in the Johannesburg High Court on Tuesday.
Ebrahim was sentenced to a three-year suspended sentence in July 2008 in exchange for her successful testimony against the other robbery accused, including the siblings.
The brothers pleaded not guilty to charges of armed robbery with aggravating circumstances and the illegal possession of automatic rifles and ammunition. The charges against them follow a brazen robbery at the airport in which the robbers fled with more than R100 million, most of it in US currency, on March 25, 2006.
Six others, including mastermind Chris Billings, are serving lengthy jail sentences for their role in the robbery.
On Tuesday, contradictions in Ebrahim’s testimony were vigorously pointed out by the defence’s advocate Stefaan van Rensburg.
Ebrahim, in her main testimony on Tuesday, gave the court a detailed account of her involvement in the robbery - at least more than four weeks before its execution. She told the court she became aware of the involvement of the remaining accused through Ismail.
Ebrahim’s admissions were contained in an affidavit that she made after turning state witness in July 2008 - two years after the robbery.
Ebrahim said: “There was no fixed date on the robbery. It depended on the load factor (arrival of the cargo carrying cash).
But under cross-examination on Tuesday it was revealed that in an earlier statement on March 28, 2006, she claimed she heard about the robbery on the radio.
According to Ebrahim, she was scared, nervous and stressed when she made the initial statement.
The trial continues.