Bank syndicate sentenced to 843 years in jail

Members of an illegal syndicate that operated in Gauteng, North West and Limpopo were sentenced to an accumulative 843 years for 68 counts

The counts included racketeering by managing and participating an enterprise, kidnapping, robbery, murder, fraud, corruption, conspiracy and possession of firearms and ammunition by the High Court of South Africa, Gauteng Local Division.

With the court ordering that some of the sentences should run concurrently, Vusimuzi Jomo Mazibuko (43) and Xolani Comfort Mkhwanazi (32) will serve life imprisonment each. Shaun Khumalo (25) will serve 15 years imprisonment while Vusi David Sibanyoni (41) and Sticks Nkuna Bhova (46) will serve an effective 20 years each, and Calvin Congo Mabunda (40), 25 years imprisonment.

They preyed on unsuspecting bank clients that withdrew large sums of money. After obtaining information from syndicate members that observed clientele withdrawing money from the tellers (so-called spotters), they thereafter sent the descriptions of the victims to other team members to follow them to isolated areas or their homes so that they could be robbed of the money they had withdrawn and other belongings such as cellphones and wallets.

They began their reign of terror in Rustenburg in 2011 where they attempted to rob the post office at Mabeskraal by kidnapping one of the employees, whom they thought had the keys to the safe. They moved their operation to Gauteng where, in August 2013 they observed Johan Joseph Meyer and his wife withdrawing a large amount of cash.

The spotter gave this information to his associates who followed the couple to their home where Mr Meyer was robbed at gunpoint and was fatally shot. They also followed clients in Booysens, Kliprivier and Vereeniging, making use of the same modus operandi. In the Booysens matter, the information given to the syndicate was obtained from one of the accused who was a bank teller and was paid for this information. They continued their criminal operation in Giyani between 2017 and 2018, using the same mode of operation to pounce on more bank clients. They were ultimately arrested at a store in Giyani where they accosted staff members who had, moments earlier, arrived after withdrawing a large amount of cash at the bank.

The robbers fled the scene and were pursued by the police and subsequently a shootout ensued. The criminals were also linked by means of fingerprints, facial recognition, expert evidence by bank officials and various positive identifications at several identity parades. As the accused refused to partake in an identity parade in Giyani, the SAPS were instructed to conduct a photo-identity parade, where a number of the victims could identify the perpetrators. Deputy Director of Public Prosecutions, Advocate Geo Wassermann, assisted by Advocate Cobus Ehlers, argued that the victims of these crimes relied on the criminal justice system for recourse for their loss, pain, and suffering. The State called the evidence of an expert in bank clients’ robberies, Ms Maureen Coetzee, who analysed the video footage of the banks to establish who the spotters were, and what their modus operandi were. She also testified regarding the operation of the syndicates.

Her evidence was important to establish that a syndicate existed and how it functione and what role each person had in the syndicate, such as the spotters, gunmen and the persons such as tellers, who supplied the information to the syndicate. The NPA extends its gratitude to the complainants that came forward to testify, as well as investigating officers Sergeant Tshediso Simon Nyofane (Gauteng matters) and Warrant Officer Kazamula Robert Chabalala (Limpopo matters), for dedicating their efforts to the fight against organised crime. We will continue ensuring that these syndicates are dismantled as part of promoting the citizen’s safety.   

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