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1st suspect in robbery of American students waits for bail application

A 30-year-old Mamelodi man fingered in the robbery involving American exchange students will have to wait until next week Monday to hear if he will be granted bail
COURT GAVEL A 30-year-old Mamelodi man fingered in the robbery involving American exchange students will have to wait until next week Monday to hear if he will be granted bail
Image: STOCK IMAGE

 A 30-year-old Mamelodi man fingered in the robbery involving American exchange students will have to wait until next week Monday to hear if he will be granted bail.

Service Mafere Maimela appeared briefly in the Mamelodi magistrate’s court on Monday where he was charged with 18 counts of robbery with aggravating circumstances and two counts of pointing a firearm. Maimela was arrested on Friday after police launched a manhunt after he and four others allegedly robbed 18 students and two professors from the US, on an outreach visit at the Viva Foundation School in Mamelodi East.

They allegedly got away with laptops, cellphones, cameras, passports, plane tickets, bags and US dollars. The matter was postponed until May 27 for further investigation, the conducting of an identity parade and for bail application.

During the robbery, a teacher was pistol-whipped and a resident struck by a stray bullet in the hand as the suspects fired shots while fleeing the scene.

A team of investigators tasked by the provincial commissioner Lt Gen Elias Mawela were tipped off to a car wash in Phase 3, Mamelodi East, where they discovered the same vehicle used in the crime a day before.

"The vehicle was processed, leading to the discovery of crucial evidence through which police were able to confirm that the taxi had been used during the commission of the armed robbery," police spokesperson Brig Mathapelo Peters said on Friday.

Subsequently, Maimela was arrested on Thursday night at Pienaarspoort informal settlement in Mamelodi East "Police are hot on the heels of outstanding suspects and believe that it is only a matter of time before they are found and arrested," Peters added.

Mawela has urged officers to not rest until all suspects in this matter have been apprehended. "Criminals must understand that we mean business. They cannot be terrorising our communities, let alone children as well as visitors to our country, and think they can get away with it. We will not rest until we are convinced that serious and violent crime is a thing of the past."

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