Robber forgot to cover his face, court hears

Johannesburg - Owen Basimane Serero, charged with several offences, apparently forgot to cover his face with a balaclava during a robbery in Boksburg, the Johannesburg Magistrate's Court heard on Monday.

"He appeared in the yard with a beanie on his head slightly pulled above his eyes," State witness Wayne Buiten told the court.

"He pulled it down after one of his men told him to do so."

Buiten said Serero and two men accosted his friends in a car at his friends' house in Boksburg, pointed a firearm at them and stole two bags and car keys. One bag contained cash and another jewellery.

Defence lawyer Tshega Ntake told Buiten that Serero would deny being in the yard.

"The accused will denied entering a yard accompanied by two men," said Ntake.

"That is what he would say. I disagree," Buiten responded.

He told the court that Serero pointed a firearm at his friends who were inside a car parked in the yard, one man ordered Buiten to lie face down on the ground and a third man held the gate and derailed it from its channel.

He said a fourth man waited in a white BMW X5 which was parked nearby. After the robbery they fled in the BMW.

The car was involved in an accident and Serero and the three men fled the scene.

Serero faces three charges of robbery, two of possession of illegal firearms and ammunition, three of motor vehicle theft, one of contravening traffic laws, one of interfering with an investigation, and one of escaping from custody.

But during cross-examination of witnesses, prosecutor Talita Louw made a court application that the theft of a motor vehicle charge should be removed because no car was stolen; only car keys.

‘Not guilty’

Dressed in a white floral shirt and a pair of blue jeans, Serero walked into the courtroom carrying a notebook and folded his hands as the charges against him were read.

"How do you plead?" asked Magistrate Simon Radasi.

"Not guilty," Serero responded.

The State alleges that on 26 July 2011 Serero pointed a firearm at Benjamin Khoza at Hartbeespoort Dam, North West, assaulted him, took his Toyota bakkie, and forcefully transported him in another motor vehicle to Muldersdrift in Gauteng.

On 5 May 2012 he allegedly stole a Ford Focus in Sandton.

On 7 November 2012 he allegedly pointed a firearm at Willem Coetzee, 25, and stole a BMW X5 belonging to his employer in Roodepoort.

Coetzee told the court he was on his way to a filling station to fill up the car with petrol when he noticed a silver Chevrolet following him.

"When I accelerated it also accelerated," he said.

He told the court the car was delivered to a dealer in Clearwater, Roodepoort, a day before it was hijacked.

"It is a standard procedure to fill up a new car with petrol before it was handed over to customers."

‘I was scared’

Coetzee said that on his way back from the filling station he stopped for about 10 seconds at an intersection to check whether the cigarette lighter was working, when the silver Chevrolet stopped in front of him. A passenger got out of the car pointed a firearm at him and ordered him to get out of the car.

"I tried to reverse but it was too late. He told me he was going to shoot me if I moved or did anything. I was scared," he said.

He told the court Serero also demanded his R8 000 cellphone and threatened to shoot him when he resisted.

"I let go of the phone. I was fearing for my life."

The State further charged that on 21 January last year he allegedly pointed a firearm at another man, robbed him and took his car key.

The trial continues on Tuesday.

In a separate matter Serero is accused, along with Czech fugitive Radovan Krejcir, of plotting to kill investigators probing Krejcir.

Serero, Krejcir, Siboniso Miya, Zoduma Biyela, Jacob Nare, Nkanyiso Mafunda, and police sergeant Nandi Nkosi are accused of conspiring to kill Colonel Nkosana "Killer" Ximba and forensic investigator Paul O'Sullivan.