Cape Town - One of four people on trial for robbing the Table View Spur restaurant and locking its staff in a freezer has denied that he is one of the men caught on CCTV footage taken at the scene.
Sibongile Mbinda, 37, on trial in the Cape Town Regional Court together with Mziyanda Nethe, 25, Linda Kali, 25, and Asanda Magwa, 19 gave evidence on Tuesday. They are accused of robbing Spur of R88 000 on November 28, 2012.
The State alleges that they entered the restaurant at about 9am and asked about hosting a birthday party.
A while later, guns were drawn and the staff were forced into a freezer. The robbers emptied the safe and the till. They fled but were arrested within 15 minutes.
Mbinda told the court that he had set out early that morning in search of work and had handed his CV to several businesses in Century City and Montague Gardens. He had also tried beachfront restaurants in Table View, and then waited for a taxi to leave the area.
Mbinda said police arrived and he was told to lie on the ground. An altercation followed and the officers assaulted him.
He denied seeing any of his co-accused that day, nor did he know about the robbery.
Witnesses had told the court Mbinda was one of the robbers who wielded a firearm. Others said they had seen him running from police. State prosecutor Vuyani Nati questioned Mbinda about his attire that day. Mbinda had dreadlocks at the time, which was how some witnesses identified him.
Nati showed Mbinda a photograph of a dreadlocked man, but Mbinda denied it was him.
Magistrate Wilma van der Merwe asked him: “Are you saying it’s not you?”
Mbinda replied: “No, it’s not me, it’s someone who looks like me… I was arrested three times because I was mistaken for someone else.”
Nati told him the person in the photograph was the same person in the video footage of the robbery, but Mbinda said that was not him either.
Nati told Mbinda the footage showed him arriving at the restaurant carrying a gift bag. Mbinda said: “I don’t know what you are talking about.”
Nati said he found it “funny” that Mbinda was able to identify his co-accused’s faces on the footage but could not recognise himself. “I can’t say it’s me when it’s not,” Mbinda said. Magwa, on bail, also testified. She apologised for her role, saying she was not aware they were going to rob the restaurant.
She said she had been approached by Kali about doing decorations for a party, which was why she had accompanied the men.
The State says Magwa was aware of the plans to rob the establishment and that she had taken part because she wanted the money.
Closing arguments are expected to be heard on Wednesday.