Birds of feather found guilty of charges together
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THE TWO men who were responsible for the abduction of Henry the peacock from his previous hangout in Northdene, Queensburgh, before attempting to steal a vehicle in Umdloti, pleaded guilty to the charges in court this week.
Henry’s bird-napping in October last year was captured on camera and the resulting video, which showed how he was stuffed into the boot of a Toyota Etios, flew far and wide.
Henry’s abductors, Njabulo Shandu and Sanele Zindela, made their guilty pleas before Magistrate Sophie Reddy at the Durban Regional Court on Thursday.
Shandu and Zindela was charged for attempted theft of a motor vehicle, theft, reckless and negligent driving, possession of tools to break into cars and the theft of Henry.
For their respective roles in the crimes committed, both Shandu and Zindela were each sentenced to 10 years of imprisonment, which was wholly suspended for five years, provided they did not repeat offences.
Magistrate Reddy imposed a R5 000 fine on both men.
She also granted the Section 18 application, in terms of Prevention of Organised Crime Act 121 of 1998, brought by the National Prosecuting Authority’s Asset Forfeiture Unit, against Shandu and Zindela.
S18 applications are usually brought against convicted persons deemed to have derived benefits from their respective acts of crime.
They were accordingly ordered to pay R10 000 each into the Criminal Assets Recovery Account (Cara) before October 29.
Cara funds are used to support the country’s various crime-fighting institutions.
After bagging Henry, Shandu, Zindela, and a third suspect, who is still at large, travelled to Umdloti.
There, they attempted to break into an off-duty policeman’s vehicle, but fled when they were disturbed.
They were noticed by Marshall Security officers patrolling in uMhlanga and attempted to speed off.
Shandu lost control of the car, which crashed and eventually came to rest on its roof near a BP Garage in uMhlanga.
Henry survived the rough ride and his only discernible injuries were some missing feathers. After receiving medical attention, he was returned to his owners.
In their plea statement, which was drafted by their legal representative, Advocate Spha Ngcobo, both men admitted guilt, accepted that their actions were unlawful and punishable by law.
They expressed remorse and conceded there was no defence in law for their actions.
State prosecutor Advocate Kuveshni Pillay said there was overwhelming evidence to prove Shandu and Zindela’s criminality and described them as “birds of a feather who flocked together”.
Therefore, Pillay recommended custodial sentences for the accused.
Before handing down the sentences, Magistrate Reddy spoke about the pair’s attempts to evade the law that resulted in a high-speed car chase, which showed their blatant disregard for other road users.
Shortly after his abduction and return to Northdene, Henry moved on with his life and relocated to Escombe, another Queensburgh suburb.
Henry got friendly with Pieter and Annette Gouws who are also Escombe residents.
He visits the Gouws’ home almost daily and feasts on the usually well stocked bird-feeders in their garden and he also enjoys the couple’s backyard loaded with leafy vegetables and cat pellets.
Annette said when Henry first visited their home he was minus a few feathers, but with time his plumage became healthy and colourful again.
Henry nests on a tree a short distance from the Gouws’ home in the evenings. Annette said Henry has been full of himself recently and was extremely noisy some evenings.
Annette believes he has put last October’s ordeal behind and she welcomed the court outcome.