heist 9 nAILed

THE men who robbed a bank of R46 million are appealing against their four convictions and 20 year imprisonment sentence.

THE men who robbed a bank of R46 million are appealing against their four convictions and 20 year imprisonment sentence.

The nine men, most of them high-earning taxi owners and businessmen, informed the Pretoria high court that they all intended to apply for leave to appeal immediately after Judge Zukisa Tshiqi passed sentence on Friday.

They were all sentenced to 20 years each except for Mathaba, who was identified by the police as the one who shot at them. He was sentenced to 22 years.

Elias Thutse, 34, Fabian Damons, 32, Daniel Mathaba, 42, Dick Ngobeni, 26, Jimmy Bilankulu, 37, Samson Mahlangu, 42, Vincent Xaba, 29, Themba Mahlangu, 32, and Simon Mncwango, 40, were found guilty of armed robbery, attempted murder, possession of firearms and possession of ammunition.

In 2006 they were assisted by Mncwango, then security supervisor at First National Bank Cash Centre in the Johannesburg city centre, in the robbery.

They walked into the bank wearing Group 4 security uniforms. Armed with rifles and pistols, they forced the staff into a corner while they loaded cash boxes into a minibus made to look like a cash-in-transit vehicle.

But the police had been tipped off about the robbery the day before and had been waiting for them in a building opposite the bank.

The robbers were all arrested on the scene and all the money stolen, except R91 000, was recovered after a shootout with the police.

"It's a miracle that none of the police was killed or injured during the shootout," said Judge Tshiqi.

The gang were mostly well educated, were married with children and earned well.

Mathaba made R25 000 a month as a taxi owner and Ngobeni, who owned a fleet of taxis, paid himself R50000 a month. Mncwango had worked for Group 4 Security for 14 years.

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