Suspected heist plotters cry foul over 'extra charges'
Lawyers representing nine men accused of planning a cash-in-transit heist in Mahikeng more than a week ago told the Mmabatho magistrate’s court that they were ambushed with new charges.
Thabo Khunou, 41, Stan Mokgoba, 54, Terry Molosiwa, 52, Sylvester Mphephu, 30, Reuben Mulenje, 51, Moalosi Ngubeni, 50, Buhle Nkosi, 30, Mbulelo Quma, 40, and Jan van der Westhuizen, 57, made their second appearance before court on Tuesday.
One of their lawyers, Bakang Segopolo, said the accused were not told that a charge of robbery with aggravating circumstances had been added to their charge sheet.
In their last appearance the group were charged with unlawfully and intentionally conspiring with another person, possession of unlawful firearms and possession of vehicles presumed stolen.
Yesterday, the men’s lawyers said they came to court ready to start with the bail application on the basis of the charges they faced being for schedule-five offences, in terms of the criminal procedure act.
With schedule-five offences, the onus is on the state to prove that it is in the interest of justice that the accused not be released on bail.
However, further investigations into the group revealed previous convictions, which meant their offences had to be changed to schedule six, meaning the accused must show there are exceptional circumstances which dictate that they be released on bail.
Prosecutor MacDonald Ndimande told the court that based on the seriousness of the offences and the fact that the accused had previous convictions, their charges fell under schedule six.
Segopolo said he needed time to prepare his submissions for the purpose of applying for bail under schedule six.
He said certain information was only been made available to him yesterday by his clients.
“Our argument is that when the charges were read to the accused, the charge of robbery with aggravating circumstances was not part of it,” he said.
Most of the accused had convictions dating as far back as 1981.
The convictions included car theft, possession of stolen motor vehicles, house breaking, attempted murder, shoplifting, armed robbery and rape.
The group were arrested in Riviera Park in Mahikeng. Six firearms, including one AK-47 rifle, handguns and an Uzi, as well as several rounds of ammunition and four luxury cars were recovered by the police during the raid.
The case was postponed until Thursday to allow the defence to prepare their submissions for bail applications.
Would you like to comment on this article or view other readers' comments? Register (it’s quick and free) or sign in now.
Please read our Comment Policy before commenting.