crime syndicate bust

A GROUP of robbers that targeted big retail stores, banks and tourists on the South Coast has been bust.

The gang of four is allegedly led by an SABC employee and a nurse.

Yesterday Mpumelelo Chiliza, 31, Nkosinathi Ndlovu, 28, Sithembiso Mkhize, 29, and Sithembiso Dlamini, 23, appeared in the Scotburgh magistrate's court.

The men face charges of armed robbery at Café Erica and Spot-on Liquors in Park Rynie, and the unlawful possession of a firearm.

Chiliza is employed at the SABC in Johannesburg while Ndlovu is a nurse in Mariannhill, west of Durban. The suspects made a brief court appearance and were remanded.

The case was postponed to Monday. The suspects have been positively linked to a series of robberies at key tourist areas along the South Coast. They were arrested last week after police received a tip-off about a suspicious vehicle in the Scotburgh area.

Police spokesperson Vincent Pandarum said they followed up the tip-off.

"When police approached the four men, they claimed to be waiting for a female companion. The police searched the car and found an unlicensed pistol, a bank cash bag and a small amount of cash under the seat. A third man, who had earlier managed to escape, was also arrested," he said.

Pandarum said a Mercedes-Benz, a Nissan bakkie and an Opel Corsa were impounded. He said a pistol that was allegedly used to commit the armed robberies, as well as a laptop, were also seized. It appears that the bakkie was used in a series of recent armed robberies in the Bazley-Sezela areas.

He said the modus operandi was that one of the suspects would sit in a vehicle, ready to drive away, while the other three would carry out the robberies. Police records show that the syndicate operated in Gauteng and KwaZulu-Natal.

Police urged people who might have been victims of the robbers to contact Detective Inspector Nicholas Stanley Mkhize on 082 6405 162.