The South Gauteng High Court has handed a combined 705 years imprisonment sentence to three members of a criminal gang convicted on 19 charges including murder, robbery, assault, attempted murder, possession of firearms, ammunition and kidnapping.
The incidents occurred in the Mopani district in Limpopo between 2017 and 2018.
The landmark conviction came following a trial which began in August 2019 and was built on detective work that involved not only the SAPS but also investigators from various banks.
Three members of the gang, Calvin Congo Mabunda (42), Sibusiso Shamase Mkhwanazi (43) and Bhova Sticks Nkuna (54) began their criminal acts by targeting the district due to a high number of pensioners who were having to withdraw large amounts of cash in the Giyani, Bolobedu, Malamulele and Mokwakwaila policing precincts.
Spotters in the bank would observe the withdrawal and once the victims had left the premises, other members of the gang would be alerted and the unsuspecting victims would then be followed.
In some instances, they followed their victims’ home from the bank and broke down their front doors and robbed them in their houses.
In one instance, Mabunda held a knife to a woman’s throat after she had bought beer and food for a lobola celebration.
The gang’s violent crime spree across Giyani resulted in the police establishing a special task team to apprehend them. The gang members were arrested on 06 January 2018 after robbing a Superspar employee at gunpoint.
The employee allegedly collected R20 000 worth of change from the bank to be transported to the supermarket in the area.
He was allegedly followed by the accused and during the robbery, a shot was fired and drew the attention of police who were patrolling nearby.
The police gave chase and cornered Mkhwanazi and Mabunda at Homu 14 village. The following day, a blue car that was also involved in the robbery was spotted and the police were able to arrest Bhova, after a chase and shoot-out that left a patrol van with a bullet hole in it.
After the arrest of the trio, the spate of violent robberies that were plaguing the Giyani policing area suddenly stopped and further investigations positively linked the suspects to other additional offences that happened in Gauteng and North West provinces.
In 2019, there was enough evidence to go for trial, all the cases across the three provinces were centralised at the South Gauteng High Court.
The three accused were subsequently handed the following sentences on Tuesday, which were diligently investigated by Warrant Officer Robert Khazamula Chabalala attached to the Provincial Organized Crime Unit in Limpopo province, as follows:
- Calvin Congo Mabunda (42) was sentenced to an effective 250 years
- Sibusizo Shamase Mkhwanazi (43) was sentenced to 278 years
- Bhova Sticks Nkuna (54) was sentenced to 177 years
"I'm delighted with the permanent removal of the three accused from society, who never showed any remorse while committing these barbaric acts. This is exemplary to would-be criminals that crime will always be paid in an unpleasant and beneficial manner to the society's advantage," Lieutenant General Thembi Hadebe said. – SAnews.gov.za