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Kempton Park court to rule on bail for suspects – OR Tambo heist

Prince and thando

For two weeks‚ the Kempton Park Magistrate’s Court has heard evidence supporting and opposing bail for the men accused of the daring heist at OR Tambo International Airport last month.

Magistrate Amulekani Msimeki will today and tomorrow hand down judgment.

Here is what has emerged so far:

Accused number three – Simon Thokwane

Thokwane is a constable in the SAPS‚ stationed at the airport. The state alleges he showed his co-accused access points and helped them observe the movements of security guards and police. He is also facing 30 charges relating to violations of the Immigration Act and for defeating the ends of justice‚ for which he is currently on trial at the same court (scheduled to appear on June 2).

He was arrested while on duty at the airport and driven 50km to Delmas police station‚ where he claims he was tortured by being shocked with electricity and suffocated with a plastic bag over his head until he agreed to provide a statement implicating himself.

Accused number four – France Manaka

Manaka is a vault supervisor for Guard Force International‚ a private security company that specialises in moving high-risk cargo through the airport.

He‚ the state alleges‚ provided his co-accused with a description of the container in which the money was being transported and also kept the others up to date via SMS on the night of the robbery.

Accused number five – Sibusiso Job Mnisi

Mnisi is a maintenance worker also employed by Guard Force International. He allegedly provided the cell phones used by the robbers to stay in touch.

He told the court he was called to the police station to be questioned about a colleague who was under arrest when he was informed he was also being arrested for the robbery.

Prince and thando

Accused number six – Prince Raphael Dube

Dube is arguably the most controversial of the suspects so far. He initially told the court he earns R400‚000 a month.

His attorney later clarified that this was his annual income.

The state alleges Dube made his Kempton Park home available to the robbers as a safe house‚ where the cars used in the robbery were disguised as police vehicles.

It emerged during his bail application that Dube‚ who is the listed director of three companies‚ had provided police with 14 different names over the years as he was arrested on other charges‚ including drunk driving and contravening the Immigration Act.

He also alleged he was beaten and tortured by police after his arrest.

Accused number seven – Thando Sonqishe

Sonqishe also caused a storm on social media after photographs of police officers standing next to his Lamborghini Gallardo were shared far and wide.

Sonqishe allegedly provided the police blue lights used on the vehicles‚ a job for which he was allegedly paid R1-million.

He is self-employed and runs a transport business and was the first to claim he was assaulted by police officers after his arrest.

His attorney also told the court he had opened a charge of assault against the entire investigating team with the Independent Police Investigation Directory (IPID).

Around R13‚000 was found at his girlfriend’s home‚ hidden under a washing machine.

The court heard that Standard Bank officials have positively linked the money that was stolen.

Accused number eight – Cosmos Ntanzi

Ntanzi told the court he owns four meter taxis. Police allege he was told about the heist by one of the co-accused before it happened while giving the robber a lift to a garage.

Police also found a list with abbreviated names and contact numbers for other men they believe were part of the robbery‚ at least four of whom are believed to be in Zimbabwe. He also drove to KZN to collect a number of other robbers and brought them to Johannesburg‚ prosecutors say.

Charges were dropped against accused number one‚ Khulekani Sibanda‚ while accused number two Mosiuoa Motani will be recharged at a later stage.

The robbery

The Hawks investigating officer Colonel Samuel Mahlangu told the court in an affidavit‚ variations of which were read at each of the bail applications‚ that the suspects were dressed in police uniforms during the robbery and were armed with automatic and semi-automatic rifles.

TimesLIVE sources said the money taken was around R200-million in foreign currency‚ but police have told the court the stolen cash was only R20-million in local currency.

Prosecutors have told the court that the investigation could take upwards of six months to finalise.

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