TSHWARELO HUNTER MOGAKANE
A CRIMINAL gang which terrorised and robbed pensioners and others after withdrawing huge sums from the banks, has been sentenced to a combined 705 years in prison.
Calvin Congo Mabunda, 42, Sibusizo Shamase Mkhwanazi, 43, Bhova Sticks Nkuna, 54, were sentenced in the Johannesburg High Court last week following their five-year reign of terror.
Working with spotters who frequented the banks, they targeted unsuspecting victims in various parts of Mopani district in Limpopo, including Giyani, Bolobedu, Malamulele and Mokwakwail.
Mabunda was handed an effective 250 years in prison, with Mkhwanazi and Nkuna receiving 278 years and 177 years respectively.
Police in Limpopo have welcomed Mabunda, Mkhwanazi and Nkuna’s sentencing.
“The gang members were handed a combined 705 imprisonment sentences (after being) convicted on 19 charges that included murder, robbery, assault, attempted murder, possession of firearms, ammunition, and kidnapping incidents that occurred in the Mopani District between 2017 and 2018 period.
“The landmark conviction came following a trial that began in August 2019 and was built on sterling detective work that involved not only the SAPS, but also investigators from various banks,” said Limpopo provincial police spokesperson Colonel Malesela Ledwaba.
Ledwaba said the three targeted the district due to a high number of pensioners who were in the habit of withdrawing large amounts of cash in 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 criminal group 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,” he said.
Ledwaba said it took a special team to bring the gang members to book.
“The gang’s violent crime spree across Giyani resulted in the police forming a special task team to apprehend. Their luck finally ran out on January 6, 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 that is situated 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.
“They 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 police were able to arrest Bhova, after a chase and shoot-out that left a patrol van with a bullet hole in it,” said Ledwaba.
“After the arrests of the trio, the spate of violent robberies that were plaguing the Giyani policing area suddenly stopped and further investigations positively linked the suspects with the other additional offences that happened in Gauteng and North West provinces.”
Provincial police commissioner Lieutenant General Thembi Hadebe said she was delighted about the heavy sentence handed to the criminals, and hoped it would send a clear message that crime does not pay.
“I’m very much delighted about the permanent removal of the three accused from the society. They 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,” said Hadebe.