Armed robbers sentenced
HELDERBERG – A former manager of Markham Somerset West and two accomplices will spend time behind bars for armed robbery at the store in 2016.
Daniel Nduna (35) and his coaccused, Siyabonga Cabela (29) and Thabiso Mnyungula (34), were convicted in the Somerset West Regional Court last month.
According to Sergeant Suzan Jantjies, Somerset West police spokesperson, the accused were found guilty of business robbery and arson on 15 July, and sentenced on 27 July to 10 years’ imprisonment, of which five are suspended on condition they are not convicted of robbery again.
She said Nduna was also sentenced to an additional 12 months’ imprisonment for defeating the ends of justice.
The sentencing comes after stellar investigation into the armed robbery, which occurred at the men’s clothing store on Monday 9 May 2016. The store, then located in Main Road before its permanent closure following the incident, was also set alight.
DistrictMail reported that Nduna, the “mastermind” behind the robbery, was arrested at his Lwandle home not long afterwards, on Friday 3 June.
The then 31-year-old had been employed by The Foschini Group (TFG) for several years and had previously also worked at Markham Somerset Mall. TFG, at the time, declined to comment stating the case was sub judice.
Nduna appeared in the Somerset
West Magistrates’ Court on Monday 6 June alongside his then 29-year-old friend and accomplice in the robbery, Mnyungula.
It was reported that two of the men, posing as customers, entered the shop just before closing time at 18:00, and asked to see shoes, which Nduna then got from a storeroom at the back. On his return he saw his male colleague had been tied up. One of the men allegedly hit him on his head with a firearm. The robbers demanded cash, cellphones and shoes, which Nduna handed over to them.
Nduna claimed he passed out and, on regaining consciousness, saw the store was engulfed in smoke. Before fleeing the scene the men set clothing items near the store’s entrance alight.
Smoke alarms alerted security company personnel, who rushed to the scene where they allegedly found that Nduna had untied the sales assistant. Both men were taken to hospital and were later discharged.
A case of business robbery and arson was opened for investigation and, according to Jantjies, a breakthrough in the case resulted in Nduna and Mnyungula’s arrest weeks later. The third suspect, Cabela, then aged 25, was arrested later.
Somerset West police station commander Colonel Jacolize Fleischmann welcomed the sentence and all the accused spending time behind bars.
Francois Hugo, head of forensics and security at TFG, this week said his team was central to the investigation and assisted the police in bringing the suspects to book. “It is rewarding when the team’s hard work pays off and criminals are sentenced for their crimes,” he stated.
Hugo added that the group’s forensics and security team works hard to protect its stores and employees. The state-ofthe-art control room is manned around-the-clock and works closely with the police in combating crime.
“In the first half of this year, this very effective team doubled the number of recoveries from the previous year, which resulted in many arrests and the elimination of a number of syndicates. The safety and security of our employees and customers remain our number one priority.”
He confirmed the Somerset West store’s permanent closure following the robbery and fire in 2016. “Generally, there is a robust process that considers a variety of operational factors, including profitability, occupancy costs, changes in location desirability and safety. In this case, all the above factors have played a role in the decision to not reopen the store.”
The store had been plagued by incidents of robbery, the May 2016 armed robbery and fire being the sixth reported by DistrictMail since June 2012.