The Ntuzuma Magistrate’s Court sentenced a robbery accused who was arrested following a shootout with police while in the process of a second heist to an effective 30 years behind bars.
The 27-year-old man found himself being sentenced alone without his co-accused. He was shot and killed by police in a separate incident.
Kwazi Innocent Radebe, 27, and Mnqobi Ndumiso Mngadi, 20, were being tried on five counts; robbery with aggravating circumstances; common assault; attempted murder; attempted murder of a police officer; as well as possession of an unlicensed firearm and ammunition.
Mngadi died just before the State closed its case in the trial relating to the six counts. He was shot and killed by police in a separate incident.
The pair had been on trial for robbing Romans Pizza employee, Sphiwe Qondi, who was shot after being robbed of his wages and other belongings in March 2021.
Mngadi had been the driver of the car that had stopped next to the victim who was walking home from work in Inanda. The other perpetrators who were with Radebe and Mngadi have never been arrested.
After this robbery, the accused drove to another scene at a garage where they attempted to rob patrons coming out of the garage shop. The common assault and attempted murder charges stem from this incident.
However, police who had received information about the pair’s vehicle pounced on them at the garage where Radebe, who was carrying a gun, was asked to put down his weapon by police but he began firing.
A shootout ensued and Radebe was wounded and was arrested.
Mngadi, who had fled the scene leaving his vehicle behind, handed himself over to police a month later.
Radebe was then taken for medical attention by police to a local clinic. Qondi, who was at the same clinic, alerted police to the fact that the man in the bed next to him was the same one who had robbed and shot him.
Radebe, in the trial, elected not to testify and the defence closed its case without presenting any evidence following which he was duly convicted on four counts.
He was acquitted of the common assault and one attempted murder as the State was not able to locate witnesses.
On Wednesday in mitigation of sentence, Radebe’s defence highlighted that the accused did not waste the court’s time and closed his case without taking the stand.
However, in aggravation of sentence, State prosecutor, Kaystree Ramsamujh, said if the accused had really wanted to take the court into his confidence he would have pleaded guilty from the outset.
“He only decided to make this about-turn due to the death of accused two. I ask that the minimum sentence be imposed. And even though the belongings of the victim were recovered, it was not (through) the goodwill of the accused but the work of law enforcement,” he said.
Magistrate Ravi Pillay sentenced Radebe to 15 years for the robbery with aggravating circumstances, five years for the attempted murder of police, 10 years for the possession of a firearm, and one year for the possession of ammunition.
Pillay said the accused and his friends were on the prowl robbing people and they encountered police at the garage where they were attempting to rob more people.
“The accused showed no remorse, even at the time police asked him to surrender his gun he shot at them… He showed no mercy to the complainant… He had no choice but to close his case, because the evidence was overwhelming against him. He was discharging a gun at a garage and one of the bullets could have hit the bowser setting the whole place alight.”
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