Gang fled R1,8m heist 'at speed of lightning'

She thought she had come across a car accident until an automatic rifle was pointed at her and she was told to keep quiet.

State witness Penelope Campbell told the Wynberg regional court on Friday she was travelling on the M3 towards Muizenberg when she came across the scene of the cashvan heist. She was testifying in the trial of eight men charged with robbing a Standard Bank van of R1,8 million on the M3 on August 27, 2002.

The State alleges that the men, armed with pistols and automatic rifles, hijacked four vehicles and used two to force the van off the road before they sped off with the cash.

Campbell said: "There was a white (Standard Bank) van, a white Opel Astra, a blue bakkie and two white bakkies.

"I stopped, thinking it was an accident. I watched the driver of the Astra getting out of the car and then, suddenly, there was somebody pointing a rifle on my left side. He indicated to me to be quiet."

She watched her cigarette, which she had just lit, burn out down to her fingers. "I was so nervous and too scared to move," she said.

"At the time, people were throwing boxes (of cash) from the (cashvan) to one of the white bakkies. When I looked around, there was another person pointing a gun at me.

"Once they finished, five of the men got into the Astra and another six into the white bakkie. The occupants of the bakkie were all wearing blue overalls and the driver of the Astra was quite neatly dressed. The cars drove towards Muizenberg."

State witness Ashley O'Shea said he was at his father's house in Ottery when he heard sirens: "When I walked out to see what it was, I saw a white Astra passing by at the speed of lightning and then there were two traffic vehicles behind it.

"I heard shots being fired from the speeding Astra at the traffic cars and then the Astra turned around and moved against the flow of the traffic. At this time, one of the traffic officers was bleeding."

The accused include Lunga Luke, 25, wounded in a Groote Schuur Hospital escape bid that left a prison warder dead, and Gcinikhaya Makoma, 26, granted amnesty by the Truth and Reconciliation Commission for the St James Church massacre in Kenilworth in 1993.

The trial continues on November 14.

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