Tuesday, January 10, 2012

Accused cops go undercover

Accused cops go undercover
January 10 2012 at 10:58am

Police officers at the Protea Magistrates Court yesterday escort two of the nine people accused of robbing the offices of the Witwatersrand African Taxi Association in Soweto on December 9. Pictures: Dumisani Dube


THEY are entrusted with fighting crime, but three Soweto police officers and two former reservists allegedly used a police uniform and a marked vehicle in a robbery.

Police said a gang of nine, including the officers, allegedly robbed the Witwatersrand African Taxi Association (Wata) office of R160 000 on December 9 last year.

Following a month of investigation,

a sergeant from Moroka police station, Brenda Letsiela, 35, and her husband France Ndlayane, 54, were arrested at their home in Molapo on Thursday night.

Letsiela’s cousin, Musina Silasi, 57, her brother-in-law Richard Funani, 40, and another man, France Madondo, 49, were also arrested for the robbery.

CAMERA SHY: A police sergeant accused tries to hide from photographers outside the Protea Magistrate s Court.

Dumisani Dube
Letsiela is already on suspension in connection with another case in which a Pakistani-owned shop in Langlaagte was robbed of R90 000 last year.

Former reservists who were also based at Moroka police station, Zakhele Sikhosana, 27, and Bongani Mdakane, 31, and were dismissed from the SAPS last year for their alleged involvement in the Langlaagte case, were arrested again last week for the taxi association robbery.

Two members of the Moroka Tactical Response Team, constables Trevor Mbalati, 27, and Rabelani Tshitakole, 29, were arrested on Friday for the robbery.

The nine suspects appeared at the Protea Magistrate’s Court, which was packed with the police officers’ colleagues and families yesterday. The accused covered their heads to hide away from cameras as they were led in and out of the courtroom.

Police said the gang, dressed in police and private security uniforms, allegedly went to the former Engen garage in White City Jabavu, where Wata’s office is situated, under the pretence of looking for a suspect.

“The suspects entered the garage pretending to be looking for Mr Mbatha, who they alleged to be in possession of an unlicensed firearm. They then tied the guards and made them lie on the ground,” said police spokesman Captain Mpande Khoza.

“Some of them proceeded to one of the offices, where they cut off the drop-in safe and took an amount of R160 000. It is alleged that a second police vehicle joined the other group, but they left the scene.”

He said a marked police vehicle arrived during the robbery “and helped in the action and later left”.

Meanwhile, Mbalati had another criminal case to answer to before joining the other eight yesterday. Police spokesman Warrant Officer Kay Makhubela said Mbalati faced charges of allegedly shooting Jose Dionesio, who was riding a bike in Protea Glen on December 1.

“(Mbalati) later opened a case of pointing a firearm against Dionesio. We waited for the victim to recover, and after he gave his statement, it was decided that (Mbalati) be charged for attempted murder,” Makhubela said.

Mbalati’s bail in this matter was opposed by the State before the matter was postponed to January 16. He will on the same day again appear along with eight others on what is expected to be a formal bail application in the robbery case.

( The Star)

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