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#ORTamboHeist: Twist as both sides reopen their case

Crime & Courts
Johannesburg – The State and the defence in the case of the men suspected of being involved in the heist at the OR Tambo International Airport reopened their cases at the Kempton Park Magistrate’s Court on Tuesday.

The defence teams of Prince Dube, 43, and Thando Sonqishe, 39, told the court that they wished to respond to the affidavit that was submitted by the State at their previous appearance as there were certain allegations that needed to be addressed.

The men are facing charges of robbery with aggravating circumstances for their alleged involvement in what’s considered one of the South Africa’s biggest heists. The offence is a schedule six offence and has minimum sentence of 15 years imprisonment.

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File picture: Mujahid Safodien/AP

Prosecutor Jacob Serepo accepted both applications by the defence and informed the court that the state also wished to reopen their case as they also had additional information.

Dube’s attorney Oscar Machevele argued that the state was ambushing his client as they had resources to get additional research and attain more information against Dube prior to him wanting to respond to the affidavit that was submitted by the investigating officer.

“We submit that they did not disclose their previous convictions,” Serepo said.

“Both defence and state were shocked by each others affidavits and felt they should respond to each other,” Magistrate Amukelani Msineki said before granting permission for both parties to respond to each other.

Sonqishe’s advocate Riaan Gissing responded to the states affidavit by saying that he was not provided with the charge sheet and that some

France Manaka, 26, said through his affidavit which was read by advocate Levy Mahasha, that the state would not to provide facts that he was part of the armed robbery.

He told the court that he was a vault supervisor at OR Tambo International Airport and was earning R6,000 but had about R0 in his account currently.

Manaka said that he lived alone in Tembisa, East of Johannesburg and had a six-month-old baby. His house hold assets were valued at R10,000 and had never been convicted of any criminal offences.

His affidavit said that he denied the allegations and charges he was facing and that he voluntarily handed himself over to the police once he was told the he was a suspect.

Manaka said that he was on duty on the day of the heist and was informed that an undisclosed amount of money was stolen from a certain flight.

He said he left the airport at 10pm as he was not allowed to leave when his shift ended at 8pm.

Manaka submitted that the state had a weak case against him and that he was never identified as a participant in the robbery as well as that no money was found in his possession.

He said he had R1,000 for bail and his family would assist him if the amount was more than what he had.

Later Serepo read an affidavit by Investigating Officer Colonel Mabina Mahlangu which stated that Manaka admitted to the police that he was involved in the heist and was the one who provided information of the cargo that contained the money via SMS to the other suspects.

Mahlangu said that he would undermine public order and that it was in the interest of justice to deny him bail.

Mahasha responded by saying that Manaka was an ordinary security guard and it was unnecessary for the state to say that he would interfere with evidence.

He said that under what circumstances did Manaka allegedly admit to being part of the gang that committed the crime and that the state had no proof that he sent SMS’s to help the other suspects.

“The accused is said to have given the police some information and the question is whether the state has independent source of information and the accused denies certain information by the state.”

Mahasha said that Mahlangu had no authority to say that Manaka was unemployed as there was no notice of him being dismissed by his employee.

Serepo said that there were no unusual circumstances that qualified Manaka to be released on bail.

Philokhuhle Mtanzi’s matter was postponed to Wednesday for bail application.

Court adjourned to Wednesday.

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