Four up for armed robbery

FOUR suspected armed robbers, among them a 63-year-old man and a former multimillionaire, briefly appeared in the Acornhoek magistrate's court yesterday.

Former multimillionaire and businessman Nicholas Mgiba, 34, Willies Khoza, 63, Jethro Chauke, 19, and Andrew Monareng, 24, all from Acornhoek, were not asked to plead on charges of armed robbery with aggravating circumstances.

Mgiba used to be a high flyer after benefitting from contracts he was awarded by the Bushbuckridge municipality.

The four were remanded in custody pending their next court appearance in the Mhala regional court in Thulamahashe on December 15.

They were arrested early this year after an armed robbery at the Acornhoek Pep Store, in which R10000 was stolen on May 25.

Khoza is alleged to have entered the store pretending to be a customer.

He suddenly produced a gun and forced employees and a customer into an office in the store.

"The customer refused to go into the office and ran away. The suspect allegedly fired a shot before robbing the employees of R10 000 and dashing out," Acornhoek police spokesperson Inspector Themba Thwala said at the time.

Pep store is only about 100m from the Acornhoek police station.

When the police heard the sound of gunfire they rushed to the scene and saw Khoza falling off an alleged getaway bakkie.

He ran towards a school where he was arrested in a classroom.

He had a firearm with him that police later established belonged to Cottondale businessman Elliot Ndlovu, who had been robbed early this year.

Shortly after senior magistrate George Risimati granted the four men R5000 bail in the Mapulaneng magistrate's court for the Pep store robbery, the Tzaneen police arrested Mgiba and his 63-year-old mother, Virginia Mgiba, on fraud charges.

Police told Sowetan that the two allegedly bought at least two vehicles from a dealer in Tzaneen and sold them in Mozambique.

They subsequently reported the vehicles stolen.