Paarl store robbers lose appeal against conviction
Share this article:
CAPE TOWN - Four retail store robbers have lost an appeal against their conviction for robbery with aggravating circumstances, while kidnapping and pointing of a firearm convictions have been set aside.
Siyabulela Ndwanyana, Sonele Makgoba, Lehlohonolo Mathibe and Luthando Thosholo were arrested and charged following the robbery of Markhams in Paarl in February 2014.
The evidence of 19 witnesses before the trial court was that prior to the robbery, a green Toyota Camry vehicle driven by Thosholo was parked in front of the store.
Six men entered the store where an armed robbery took place.
Four people were locked in a back office where their hands and feet were tied with cable ties and their mouths sealed with silver tape.
During the course of the robbery the men pointed firearms at a number of people inside the store and held a firearm to the head of a staff member while he was instructed to open the store’s safe.
Clothing, shoes, bags, cellphones and R43 000 in cash were stolen, and two state witnesses were outside the store and saw the men walking in and out of the store several times carrying boxes and sports bags to the Camry, when one of the witnesses called his father who is a colonel in the police stationed in Paarl to alert him to what was happening.
After the men left the store, they got into the Camry and a car chase with police ensued.
Thosholo, who was alleged to have driven the getaway vehicle, lost control of it and stopped near a graveyard, where the suspects fled.
All four suspects maintained their innocence.
After considering various factors of each of the accused, the high court dismissed the appeal against the conviction of the appellants on count one - robbery with aggravating circumstances - while it upheld an appeal against their four counts of pointing of a firearm and four counts of kidnapping.
“On a conspectus of the evidence before the trial court this court is satisfied that the evidence showed that the appellants were positively identified beyond reasonable doubt as perpetrators of the crime committed. The testimony of the state's witnesses, considered together with the forensic fingerprint evidence put up, clearly proved it was the appellants who robbed the Markhams store on the day in question.
’’The witnesses who identified the first, second and fourth appellants had ample opportunity to do so given that the appellants did not wear masks, the visibility and lighting in the store was good and the witnesses interacted with the appellants who were on the scene for what was described as an extended period of 25 to 30 minutes,” the court noted.