Magistrate praised for meting out stiff sentences

THE police have praised Scottburgh magistrate Asheena Bacharam and prosecutor Tasneem Khalil for meting out stiff sentences to five criminals arrested for a string of house robberies and break-ins.

Fani Shozi, 25, Fanifani Mkhize, 25, Sanele Dlamini, 25, Xolani Dlamini, 18, (not related) and Lizwi Ndwandwe, 26, all of Malangeni near Umzinto, were last week found guilty and sentenced to a combined 99 years imprisonment.

Property, including music systems and electrical appliances valued at more than R200000, was recovered during the arrests and returned to the owners. The men were arrested in October.

Police spokesperson Captain Vincent Pandarum said while four of the suspects were behind bars the detectives managed to connect them to a further 12 burglaries and house robberies in the area.

"The fifth member of the gang, Fani Shozi, was arrested on Monday October 19 and appeared in court with the others on October 26. Again, police recovered stolen property worth thousands of rands as well as a knife allegedly used to stab a victim in the chest and back during a house robbery in Sezela on October 14.

"The accused had robbed the man of a home theatre system, money and clothing," he said.

The five, all unemployed, appeared in court again on 6 November and were subsequently convicted last week on nine counts of housebreaking with intent to steal and theft and one count of house robbery.

"They were each sentenced to between 12 and 27 years imprisonment, jointly totaling 99 years," Pandarum said.

He said the arrests were the result of a project called "Operation Black Cat" where Detective Inspector Yugen Moodley, Detective Inspector Roy Mbonambi, Detective Constable Zenzi Mkhize and "Stud" were highly involved. Pandarum added that Constable Cliffy Pillay prioritised the arrest of the men.

Scottburgh station commander Superintendent Praga Naicker said he was pleased with the convictions and stiff sentences.