Heist Seven bustled into court


Reporter: Yunus Kemp

A FORMER Apla member granted amnesty after the St James Church massacre and six other men have appeared in the Wynberg Magistrate’s Court after the cash-in-transit heist on Wynberg Hill on Tuesday. A trafic policeman, James Mayston, was shot and injured as the attackers were fleeing. Former Apla member Gcinikhaya Makoma, 26, Charles Sigabi, 25, and Zola Dadani, 25, all of Khayelitsha, Poyo Gobo, 19, and Lunga Luke, 25, of Langa, and Tokiso Sithole, 18 and Vuyo Nyabaza, 18, of Gugulethu, were arrested shortly after a cash van was attacked at the foot of Wynberg Hill near Contstantia. In the attack R1.8 million was looted from the van, loaded with money destined for autobanks in the Peninsula, and the driver of the van was pistol-whipped. Police were called and a high-speed car chase let to Ottery, where seven of the men were arrested. Eight men escaped with most of the money, but police recovered a bag of cash, a number of firearms including an AK-47, an R5 assault rifle and two 9mm pistols, and ammunition. Makoma was a member of the Pan Africanist Congress’s military wing, the Azanian People’s Liberation Army and along with two others, was found guilty of attacking worshippers during a service at St James Church in Kenilworth on July 25, 1993 with firearms and hand grenades. Eleven people died and 58 were injured. The three were serving life sentences when they were granted amnesty by the Truth and Reconciliation Commission in June 1998. At the court yesterday security was tight. Members of the police’s intervention unit led the seven men from the holding cells to the dock. The officers, all wearing bullet-proof vests, kept watch over the men and their families, who had packed in the public gallery. Ben Mathewson, for Gobo, Luke and Nyabaza, told magistrate Anieke Pretorius that his clients had been assaulted by police during their arrest. “I wish to place on record… that police trampled Gobo’s head, that after being handcuffed, Luke was kicked in his lower body and dragged by his arms, and that Nyabaza was mauled by police dogs which bit his legs,” said Mathewson. The men were not asked to plead. Pretorius postponed the matter to September 5. When the seven men stepped down from the dock, their family members stood up and rushed to get near them. Police stepped between family members and the men and prevented them from having physical contact, but not before relatives threw envelopes with money at the men. The men were remanded to Pollsmoor.

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