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July unrest looter handed five-year sentence for stealing a truck from a business in KZN

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Durban – The Durban Regional Court has sentenced Nhlanhla Samkelo Mthembu, 31, to five years direct imprisonment after he pleaded guilty to the theft of a motor vehicle belonging to a business in Mobeni, south of Durban, during the July unrest last year.

National Prosecuting Authority regional spokesperson Natasha Ramkisson-Kara said the complainant’s business property was looted and several of his business vehicles were taken, one of them being a Toyota Hino truck, valued at approximately R350 000.

“In his plea statement, Mthembu said that he and his friend had come across the persons who had originally taken the vehicle from the premises, and they were having difficulties driving the vehicle. He and his friend assisted them and drove the truck, heading towards the Esikhawini area to avoid detection. When they got to Esikhawini, the other occupants jumped off the truck and fled, leaving him in the truck. Since the truck was fitted with a tracking device, Mthembu was arrested while in the truck,” Ramkisson-Kara said.

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She said that in an aggravation of sentence, Regional Court Prosecutor Vishalan Moodley told the court that the offence was serious, particularly since it took place during the looting period, where there was a general sense of lawlessness. In sentencing Mthembu, the court deemed him unfit to possess a firearm.

Ramkisson-Kara said the NPA welcomed the successful prosecution and commends the working relationship between the prosecution and SAPS.

In March, the same court handed another looter a six-year imprisonment sentence.

Mvelo Majola pleaded guilty to the theft of a motor vehicle during the looting and civil unrest in KwaZulu-Natal last year.

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Majola had stolen a Hino truck that was one of nine vehicles stolen from Pharmed Pharmaceuticals in Riverhorse Valley on Nandi Drive.

“In his plea, Majola said he knew of some people that participated in the looting spree, and one of them had given him the vehicle. Majola told the police he wanted to use the vehicle to visit some of his friends and relatives, and he planned to abandon the vehicle once he was done with it,” Ramkisson-Kara said.

Majola was arrested a few days later when police stopped him and asked about the branded company vehicle. Since he could not answer their questions, police called the number branded on the truck and the person who answered indicated that the vehicle had been stolen during the looting. The owner was able to identify the truck.

Prosecutor Moodley told the court that the looting and theft during the unrest were done opportunistically with no regard for the rule of law or people’s belongings. He asked the court to pass a custodial sentence as a warning to others who participated in such reckless behaviour. – Daily News

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