Pair face murder trial after heist

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Pietermaritzburg - Two men charged with the murders of a policeman and a private security guard during a Richmond cash-in-transit heist will now be tried in the Pietermaritzburg High Court.

The indictment was served on Thulani Doncabe, 40, and Siboniso Mpanza, 20, at the Richmond Magistrate’s Court on Tuesday.

They are accused of murdering Sergeant Thamsanqa Zondi and G4S security guard Izak Phungula.

The matter was adjourned for a trial date to be arranged.

The two are alleged to be part of an armed gang that tried to rob guards loading cash in an ATM at Capitec Bank in Shepstone Street, Richmond, on January 27 this year.

Phungula was shot at the ATM and Zondi was shot when he cornered the gang at a quarry after the botched heist.

Other policemen were shot and injured in the shootout between police and the robbers. Three of the gang members were shot dead by police.

According to the indictment, Doncabe and Mpanza face two counts of theft, one count of robbery with aggravating circumstances, five counts of murder, 14 counts of attempted murder and the unlawful possession of firearms and ammunition.

The State alleges that when the gang plotted to rob the G4S cash services, they were aware that they might attract the intervention of armed security guards and police.

The gang was also aware that the ATM was linked to a security alarm system and that the Richmond Police Station was metres away from the bank they intended to rob. With all these facts in mind, the robbers persisted with their plan.

G4S security guards Phungula and Bhekumdeni Dladla were on duty on the day of the attack.

The indictment reads that at about 4.30pm on January 27, they arrived at Capitec Bank in Shepstone Street to fill an ATM with money.

Dladla was the driver of the cash van and Phungula was handling the money.

Both guards were armed with 9mm pistols.

Phungula went into the bank and emerged with a cash box filled with R300 000 which he was going to put into the ATM vault.

Phungula was oblivious to the danger he faced from the gang, who were watching him. They were allegedly seated in a stolen RunX and Corolla, as well as a Toyota Hilux bakkie that belonged to one of the robbers.

As Phungula unlocked the vault, he was confronted by the robbers, who were armed with AK-47 and R5 rifles as well as handguns.

They opened fire on Phungula, killing him instantly. The gunfire also resulted in the cash box exploding. The cash box let off smoke and ink dyed the cash.

The robbers abandoned the cash and stole Phungula’s service pistol.

Dladla, who witnessed the murder of his colleague, tried to pursue the robbers, but he was fired upon and injured.

Police at Richmond police station heard the gunfire and gave chase, which resulted in a dramatic shootout through the streets of Richmond.

Four bystanders were injured in the exchange of gunfire between the robbers and police.

The robbers managed to get a distance ahead of the police, then lay in wait in the Smozomeni area. As the cops approached, the robbers opened fire on them. Zondi was hit in the head and died on the scene and two policemen were seriously wounded.

In their haste to flee, some robbers were left behind and they fled into a bushy area.

Members of the Public Order policing unit went in search of the robbers and came across one of them. He opened fire on the police, who retaliated. The suspect, identified as Andile Hlongwane, was killed.

The other robbers, who fled in the Hilux bakkie, were pursued by Richmond police. They were cornered by a police roadblock in the Pathini area and fled into a nearby sugar cane plantation.

One of the suspects, identified as Siphithemba Mtshali, was shot and killed when he fired on police.

Dog unit members, who had also responded to the scene, followed the remaining suspects into the plantation. A police dog indicated the presence of a suspect identified as Senzo Mtolo, who also fired on the police. He was shot and killed.

Doncabe and Mpanza were found hiding in the plantation and arrested.

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