Soweto cash-in-transit heist: Court hears that accused is related to axed ANC employee

One of the Dobsonville cash-in-transit heist accused is a family member of former ANC employee Errol Velile Present, who is also his co-accused.

"We are cousins. Our mothers are siblings," Zakhele Zondi, 37, told the Roodepoort Magistrate's Court when he testified in his bail application on Friday.

Present was a staff member at the ANC's headquarters, Luthuli House.

On Friday, Zondi appeared in court alongside Present, Itumeleng Manama, 40, and Bheki Biyela, 36.

The men were arrested by the Johannesburg Metro Police Department's K9 Unit and Crime Intelligence in connection with the Dobsonville heist in which a security guard was shot and wounded.

During his first hour of testimony on Friday, Zondi repeatedly told the court that police drove around with him all night after arresting him on July 5.

READ: Claims of police assault as bail hearing for 4 accused in Soweto cash-in-transit heist gets underway

He claimed he was arrested in the evening but only arrived at the Dobsonville police station at around 11:00 the following morning.

"So, you are telling the court that you were in police custody for almost 11 hours before you were taken to the police station," Present's lawyer Ben Modumaela put to Zondi.

The accused replied: "That's correct. The police were busy assaulting us."

"They used a plastic bag to cover my face and the other one was hitting me with a firearm on my chest," he added.

A woman left the courtroom in tears as he testified.

Zondi recalled that he had seen Present on the day of their arrest and again later at the police station, where they had been taken to identify vehicles allegedly found in their possession.

He said Present appeared injured and "like someone who was in pain".

Zondi claimed that they were assaulted every time they claimed that they did not know anything about the robbery.

Modumaela asked: "Were you a man and [did you endure] the pain and decide to refuse that you did not know anything about the robbery?"

"I ended up agreeing to [confess] because I couldn't take the torture and assault anymore," he said.

However, Prosecutor Paseka Temeki argued: "He (Zondi) never made any mention of a statement or confession. Modumaela is putting words into this witness' mouth."

Magistrate John Baloyi agreed.

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At a previous appearance, Zondi told the court that he had been convicted of attempted murder in 2002 and sentenced to 11 years behind bars.

He was released on parole in 2009 and there were no pending cases against him.

Earlier in the day, the court adjourned to allow Manama's advocate, Nthabiseng Mohomune, to attend the proceedings.

Mohomune arrived at court at about midday, saying she had to attend to a matter in the South Gauteng High Court in Johannesburg.

Mohomune read out an affidavit in support of her client's bail application, in which Manama claimed that he was not part of a robbery, was not identified, did not know any witnesses and would neither evade nor disrespect the orders of the court.

Manama also claimed that police tortured him at the time of his arrest in Honeydew.

About eight police officers, who travelled in three different cars, demanded to know where the firearms were, he claimed

"I was tortured. They put a plastic bag over my head and even pepper sprayed me," he told the court.

Manama claimed the Hawks took him to the North West province after he was told that he had committed robbery there.

He told the court that the officers put a cloth around the neck and tape over his head.

His hands had apparently been strapped to a chair and the officers allegedly put two chokers on his thighs.

It emerged in the affidavit that Manama said he held a diploma in electrical engineering and lived with his girlfriend prior to his arrest.

He was found guilty of conspiracy to commit robbery in 2002 and was sentenced to 11 years in prison. It is not clear how many years he served before he was released on parole.

He also said he had handed over his passport.

The court heard that he could afford to pay bail of R10 000 and intended to plead not guilty.

The case was postponed to August 31.