14/03/2012 Escapee Bongani Moyo is kept under guard at a press conference following his escape from Pretoria Central Prison Picture : Sizwe Ndingane

Even before he can stand trial on more than 26 bank robbery charges, serial jailbreaker Bongani Moyo will spend a long time behind bars, just for escaping from custody.

Moyo is serving a 14-year jail sentence for escaping from the Joburg police cells in 2008. On Tuesday, he was sentenced to an additional three years’ imprisonment for his unlawful escape from the Pretoria Magistrate’s Court in August last year.

In January, Moyo pleaded not guilty to the charges, claiming he fled because detective Fritz Erasmus had threatened to kill him.

Moyo has several cases pending against him, including another unlawful escape charge following his failed attempt to escape from Pretoria Central Prison in March.

Two weeks ago a Johannesburg Regional Court magistrate sentenced Moyo to 10 years in jail for escaping from lawful custody in 2008, three years for possession of an unlicensed firearm and another year for illegal possession of ammunition.

In closing arguments on Tuesday, State prosecutor Werner Gibson argued that Moyo had shown no remorse for his actions and unnecessarily put the court through a lengthy trial.

He asked the court to impose the maximum sentence of three years and for the sentence not to run concurrently with the 14 years Moyo was already serving.

“Imposing the maximum sentence will send a strong message to offenders and will uphold the trust the community places in the courts,” Gibson said.

Moyo’s lawyer, Donald Somo, argued that his client (at the time) had never been incarcerated before and the only thing he knew to do when his life was threatened was to flee.

Moyo, who has been labelled one of SA’s most notorious escapers, previously told the court that Erasmus – who is on suspension following the escape – wanted him to identify a suspect who was not known to him and said he would kill him if he did not do so.

Two of Moyo’s co-accused allegedly involved in more than 26 bank robberies in and around Pretoria previously testified as State witnesses.

They told the court that Moyo was not shackled or cuffed on the day of his escape as he was on crutches.

Magistrate Len Muller said the court would take into account that Moyo was a single father of two children aged seven and 10.

The court found Erasmus a credible witness. He was not evasive during questioning and did not contradict himself when cross-examined, Muller said.

The testimonies of Moyo’s co-accused were full of contradictions. When questioned about that, they became restless and vague, the magistrate said.

However, he stressed that escaping from lawful custody was a very serious offence.

“Police officers are already burdened with heavy workloads as the crime rate in this country is exceptionally high.

“You have already been incarcerated for a very serious offence and face several serious charges, including resisting arrest and armed robbery.

“The court sees you as an offender who showed no remorse and who tried to lie to the court,” Muller said.

After sentencing, Somo requested the court to apply for leave of appeal.

The case was postponed to June 26.

Moyo will appear in the Correctional Services Prison Court on Wednesday for his escape from Pretoria Central Prison charge.

The trial for his robbery charges will start on March 11 next year in the Pretoria High Court.

Chester Mpane, deputy director for media and communications at the Department of Justice, said the maximum sentence for escape from lawful custody was 20 years in a regional court and three years in a district court.

He said Moyo’s 14-year sentence in Joburg was in a regional court. However, the sentencing remained at the discretion of the magistrate.

Moyo will start serving his three-year jail term in 2026.

Pretoria News