2007-01-04 : Gang was 'on mission to kill'

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2007-01-04 : Gang was 'on mission to kill'

Postby GOSA » Fri, 2007-01-05 15:12


Gang was 'on mission to kill'
Monica Laganparsad
January 04 2007 at 11:57AM

A gang member involved in the murder of a Sydenham policeman on Wednesday confessed he and his gang armed themselves with the intention to kill anyone who interfered with their plans.

The startling confession was made in the Durban High Court on Wednesday when the last member of the gang to be arrested, Siyanda Mxolise Nxumalo, pleaded guilty to housebreaking with intent to rob and robbery with aggravating circumstances and to the murder of Inspector Gavin Attlee.

In September last year, a month after the crimes, another member of the gang, Sanele Njungwini, pleaded guilty and was sentenced to an effective 20 years' imprisonment.

On Wednesday, Judge Achmat Jappie, who sentenced Nxumalo to an effective 35 years' imprisonment, said the sentence imposed on Njungwini was "too lenient".

'Attlee stumbled on to the robbery and lost his life for no reason' Attlee, who was killed in the line of duty, was hailed as a hero after he attempted to save the Desai family in Reservoir Hills. He was shot on the side of his head with a shotgun by Bonga (no surname give) who was designated to stand guard in front of the Desai home.

Bonga was killed last year while playing Russian roulette. Two other members of the gang are in custody and are expected to stand trial soon. Nxumalo was arrested on December 21 by Sydenham police near Reservoir Hills in connection with smash-and-grab incidents.

In a lengthy statement on Wednesday, Nxumalo revealed how the members of the gang, Mondli Gasa, Bonga, Siphwe, Vusi and Mabuti, met at Gasa's house to plan the robbery. Siphwe told the gang that the Desai home was fitted with a safe containing a large sum of money. This information was apparently obtained from the domestic worker.

Nxumalo said he was not given a gun and instead was handed a cutting torch to cut the security gate.

On August 24 last year around 2am, the armed gang, excluding Siphwe, entered the Desai home according to plan. The alarm was triggered and they forced Kirtikant Kapilary Desai to switch it off. Nxumalo then bound and gagged Desai's sister, Aradmana Desai.

Inside the house, Vusi and Nxumalo searched the cupboards for the safe while Mondli and Mabuti bound Desai and tortured him with a hot iron into revealing the location of the safe.

"At all times, Desai had indicated to us that there was no safe on his premises. Every time he told us this, Mabuti continued to burn him on various parts of his body using the heated iron," said Nxumalo.

Nxumalo said he took a laptop, a cellphone and R3 300 in cash.

Nxumalo said he then heard several gunshots, and Bonga ran in to tell the gang members that he had shot a policeman.

The gang fled, taking jewellery and about R10 000 in cash. The next day Nxumalo said he sold the laptop and cellphone and split the money with the rest of the gang.

A few days later, he heard the policeman had died and that Vusi wanted to kill him for fear that Nxumalo might go to police. Nxumalo said he was fearful and went into hiding.

In his statement Nxumalo said: "I am truly remorseful for my actions." While Nxumalo did not pull the trigger, he was convicted under the principle of common purpose.

The judge said Attlee stumbled on to the robbery and lost his life for no reason.

Nxumalo was sentenced to 15 years for robbery and 25 years for the murder of Attlee. Judge Jappie ordered five years of the robbery to run concurrently with the murder sentence and that Nxumalo should only be considered for parole after serving 20 years.

Attlee's widow Glynis and the Desai family could not be reached for comment.

o This article was originally published on page 3 of Daily News on January 04, 2007
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