Total blackout in heist court

Mvuyo Mati and Thanduxolo Gabha

Mvuyo Mati and Thanduxolo Gabha

Police didn't take any chances when 19 suspected heist kingpins from three provinces appeared in the Mdantsane regional court yesterday.

Police posted heavily armed officers at every entrance to the court and also barred the public from the court.

The suspects were bust on Tuesday during a pre-dawn police raid on a warehouse in Fort Jackson near East London.

They are Celumusa Nene, 30, Ntokozo Majola, 32, Bongani Zwane, 40, Mbekeni Mthethwa, 30, Hector Britts, 27, and Mzoxolo Jili, 31, all from Durban.

The others are Mandla Mbanjwa, 36, address unknown; and Thandanani Majola, 35, Tokozo Mbiyeza, 27, Siboniso Mbata, 32, Jabulani Radebe, 32, all from KwaMashu; Ayanda Ngobese, 31, from Umlazi; Andile Gumbu, 31, from Ntuzuma; and Nhlanhla Masondo, 36, from Ntuzuma.

The list concludes with Mzwakhe Mthembu, 52, Ludwe Matshaba, 24, both from Mathatha; and Mfana Mgxothwa, 50, from East London; as well as Neo Mahlangu, 27, from Soweto; and Ayanda Khumalo, 28, from Johannesburg.

The 19 have been charged with conspiracy to commit armed robbery, possession of unlicensed firearms and stolen motor vehicles.

Their case has been postponed to February 21.

Police recovered an assortment of weapons and ammunition in the warehouse.

The firearms found included five R5s, two AK47s, eight pistols, a teargas cannister, a police rotating lamp, 2,5litres of liquid chlorine, 20 cellphones and 16 IDs.

Also recovered was a Mercedes-Benz Sprinter, an Audi A4 sedan, two Isuzu panel vans and a Telkom van equipped with a ladder.

Police say the suspects had a map outlining their plan.