Friday, 29 February 2008

Judge slams SA crime rate

28/02/2008 21:52 - (SA)

Pietermaritzburg - South Africa's high crime rate and prevalence of firearms were dissuading some people from visiting the country, said a High Court judge on Thursday.

Acting Judge Sipho Nxumalo sent two armed robbers to jail for 20 years.

Sipho Zitha, 31, of Durban, and Sydney Yende, 31, of Soweto, were convicted of the armed robbery of Coin Security men of R100 000 at a garage at Cato Ridge, between Durban and Pietermaritzburg, in October 2005.

Machine-gun fire raked the precinct of a service station while a security man was taking money from a drop safe at the garage.

He ran for his life and a man was struck with shrapnel while the gang, of which the accused were members, grabbed the money.

Zitha and Yende were also convicted of having two AK-47 automatic rifles, six handguns, and escaping from custody.

Judge Nxumalo said that some business people no longer took their money to banks themselves because robbers attacked mercilessly.

R2 400 spent on woman's sandals

As a result, they had to incur extra expenses on security deliveries.

Court books showed that there were hardly any weeks in which armed-robbery cases were not on the rolls.

In most robbery cases, the money was not recovered. If robbers were not arrested at the scene they were often difficult to find and the money was seldom recovered.

The court accepted that the firearms were found at Zitha's house.

Police also found R6 000 in Yende's possessions and cash slips indicating he had indulged in a spending spree within hours of the robbery.

Among his purchases were a pair of Italian woman's plastic sandals for R2 400, a pair of man's trousers for R1 600 and a golf shirt for R800.

The two men were sentenced to a total of 25 years', but part of one sentence is to run concurrently with another, so the effective sentence is 20 years.

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