Pietermaritzburg – Three of six surviving members of a gang involved in a botched Capitec bank cash-in-transit robbery were each handed five life sentences plus 196 years’ jail by the Pietermaritzburg High Court on Tuesday.
Judge Rishi Seegobin said the murderous attack by the gang of Durban men including accused Thulani Doncabe, 40, Siboniso Mpanza, 22, and Sandile Shongwe, 24, turned the town of Richmond into a war zone in January 2012.
There had been wild shooting with powerful weapons as the assailants fled, endangering people going about their business.
Seegobin said he could not find substantial and compelling circumstances allowing him to depart from the prescribed life sentences for the murders.
He imposed two life sentences on each accused for the point-blank murders of Sicelo Phungula, who was about to load an ATM machine, and police Sergeant Thami Zondi, who was shot dead as assailants were fleeing.
He imposed life sentences for the killings of each of their three accomplices, shot dead in fights with pursuing police. They were Andile Hlongwa, Siphitembe Mtshali, and Senzo Mtolo. They realised that they could encounter violent opposition, but they nevertheless continued.
For the aggravated robbery of a cash box and cash, they were each given 20 years.
For the attempted murders of six bystanders, they were each given 10 years, for a total of 60 years each.
Each of them got another 10 years’ jail for the attempted murders of each of 10 policemen who chased them and had shootouts with them.
They were each given eight years for each of two cars which were stolen.
Seegobin rejected a plea for more lenient sentences for Mpanza, who was 20 at the time. He said there was nothing about him indicating he lacked maturity. His youthfulness was outweighed by his viciousness and that he had lied as a witness.
All the sentences would run concurrently.
Seegobin congratulated prosecutor Kandy Kandar and the investigators for their work.