Neighbourhood watch murderer guilty

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INLSA

Pretoria - A Thokoza man was found guilty of killing a neighbourhood watch member and wounding another by the High Court in Pretoria on Monday.

Mandla Ntuli, 30, was convicted on eight charges including murder, attempted murder, assault, robbery with aggravating circumstances and the illegal possession of a firearm.

The matter related to a robbery in Centurion three years ago.

Judge Winston Msimeki rejected Ntuli's claims that he was an innocent man who had been tortured by the police and forced to sign a confession.

Mnandi Community Watch member Andre Erlank Sr survived after he was shot in the chest while trying to get help on his two-way radio.

He had noticed that a robbery was in progress at the Mnandi Spar in Centurion.

The robbers shot and killed Erlank's friend and fellow community watch member Louis Viljoen, 39, in his car while he tried to leave the scene.

Erlank and his son Andre Jr had stopped at the shop on February 2, 2009.

His son had gone inside when a gang of robbers stormed in and started shooting, the court heard.

Erlank testified how one of the robbers had looked him in the eyes and shot him without saying a word.

After he crawled out of his car two of the robbers had pinned him to the ground and searched him for his cellphone and money.

His son testified that one of the robbers had returned after robbing him of his cellphone and hit him on the head with a pistol.

Msimeki ruled that Ntuli's confession to the police was admissible as evidence.

In the statement Ntuli said he had been part of a group of 14 men who planned and executed the robbery.

He said they were all armed.

His two fellow accused Mzokhona Sipho Nene and Sbusiso Sfiso Sibiya are still at large after skipping bail.

The shop's owner was robbed of R19 000 and his cellphone.

The thieves emptied the tills and robbed several customers of their cellphones and wallets.

They slapped and pulled a pregnant cashier around, causing her to lose her baby.

Msimeki accepted the evidence of one of the cashiers who identified Ntuli as the robber who had pointed a pistol at his head, took his cellphone and ordered him to show them the office.

Prosecutor Corne Pruis argued that Ntuli should be sentenced to life imprisonment.

Defence advocate Surita Joubert said Ntuli was being made a scapegoat and should receive a lesser sentence as he had already spent almost four years in jail.

He was a first offender who had four young children to support. Ntuli will be sentenced on Wednesday. - Sapa


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