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A gang member who blew up two automated teller machines and killed a policeman was convicted of 10 charges in the High Court in Pretoria on Friday.
Acting Judge Bert Bam found Sibusiso Moloi guilty of killing Villieria police inspector Jaco Botha during a robbery at an Engen garage in Pretoria in June 2008.
He was also convicted on charges of illegal possession of explosives, two charges of robbery with aggravating circumstances, the illegal possession of firearms and ammunition, malicious damage to property, attempted murder, theft, and conspiring with others to commit crimes.
Botha was at the garage to investigate a complaint that an ATM in Kilner Park was being tampered with. He was in a police car when robbers armed with AK-47s opened fire. A bullet ricocheted off the bonnet of the car and hit him in the throat.
A second officer in the car, Pieter Otto, survived but was so traumatised he had to be hospitalised. He left the police force and was still receiving counselling.
The gang fled with over R13 000 from the two machines, as well as cigarettes and other goods from the convenience store. A car was also stolen from the scene.
Moloi was linked to the scene through a single thumb print found on a wrapped packet of cigarettes found on the floor of the shop afterwards.
The shop attendants testified how a masked man had robbed them of cigarettes and cash while another man armed with a rifle stood guard at the door.
Moloi's lawyer argued the fingerprint evidence should be excluded because his client was arrested on the strength of his fingerprint. The print remained on the police's data base long after it should have been removed, when he was acquitted on other criminal charges.
Bam found this had not violated Moloi's constitutional right to privacy. He said the fingerprint evidence had been gathered lawfully and was the starting point in tracking Moloi.
He rejected Moloi's claim that he had an alibi and was asleep at a friend's house in Houghton on the day, after being injured in a car accident.
He handed in a receipt from a towing company to prove he had been in an accident the day before the bombings, but could not explain why the date on the document had been changed.
Bam said the cigarette packet on which Moloi's fingerprint was found could only have come from the shop and there was no “innocent” explanation for Moloi's fingerprint being on the packet.
Bam said the gang clearly expected resistance, posted armed lookouts and foresaw that someone could be killed. The gang members shared a common purpose and all of them could be held liable for Botha's death, he said.
Sentencing would take place on February 8 next year. - Sapa