Cash heist accused relives "torture"

Cash heist accused relives "torture".
Cash heist accused relives "torture".
Image: 123RF/stockstudio44

One of the men arrested along with former ANC branch secretary Errol Velile Present in connection with a cash heist in Dobsonville, Soweto, last month told the Roodepoort Magistrate's Court on Friday that the police had tried to pin another heist on them.

Testifying in his bail application, Itumeleng Manama, who has a 2002 conviction for conspiracy to commit robbery, said shortly after he was arrested in connection with last month's heist, police from the North West came to see him at the police station.

"They said there was a case of robbery against me in the North West. They didn't say much. They said they would be back [the following] Sunday. On Sunday they took me from the police station and we went to a building which I was told were the Hawks's offices in the North West. There they tortured us," he said.

While he made no reference to Present during his testimony, police minister Bheki Cele announced last month that Present was also suspected of being involved in the North West heist.

Speaking at a media briefing shortly after the group's arrest last month, Cele said: "This is almost his [Present's] third cash heist, this guy. It is not the first one. Two are in the North West ..."

Manama told the court that his hands were bound to a chair. A cloth was put across his mouth and neck and rolls of tape were plastered round his head.

"They also removed my trousers and a choker was plugged on both of my thighs. When they realised that I was running out of breath, they removed the cloth."

Manama said about eight police officers were involved in the torture. He said while he did not know their names, he could point them out.

"They continued asking me what I know [about the North West heist] but I said I knew nothing. From there, they took me to the Klerksdorp police station," said Manama.

His evidence was cut short and proceedings were adjourned for the day, causing displeasure from his co-
accused's relatives.

The case will resume on August 31. Manama and his group face charges of armed robbery, attempted murder and possession of hijacked motor vehicles. 

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