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Airport security guards helped load heist money, court hears

Johannesburg – Two security guards helped load stolen money in last month’s heist at Johannesburg International Airport, the Kempton Park regional court heard yesterday.

This emerged when the investigating officer, Peter Mbobani, was cross-examined during the bail application of nine people arrested since the March 25 robbery.

Mbobani said Themba Phutsitsi, 33, was employed by Khulani Security, and Annanius Nepfumbe, 33, by Protea Aviation Security.

Phutsitsi, who was on crutches, had come to court from a prison hospital, said his lawyer, Alpheus Denga. He said his client had been assaulted in custody and challenged Mbobani on whether he knew why Phutsitsi had been injured since his arrest.

“It is strange,” said Mbobani. “He was handed over to me and I detained him on March 30. Before I detained him, I asked if he had any complaints or injuries and he never said anything.”

Denga said Phutsitsi had wounds on his genitals. The court heard that Nepfumbe had shown police where some $77 000 (R462 000) had been stashed in Venda.

His lawyer, Nico Swart, put it to Mbobani that his client had been given the money by a soldier. Mbobani replied: “Yes, the soldier is one of the suspects and one of the planning team.” He also revealed during cross-examination by Pieter Wilkens, an advocate representing Airports Company of SA operations manager Nazir Ismail, that further suspects police wanted to arrest were in Zimbabwe, Nigeria and Angola.

The investigating officer also said that another of the accused, a duty manager for Acsa at the airport, Rookaya Ebrahim, 35, could move money that had still not been recovered from the heist if she were granted bail.

Some of the money recovered had been found in her possession, he said.

Mbobani said that among the nine accused there could be suspects in two other airport robberies, one last year, and the other in 2004.

During the latest heist, gunmen held up guards at the airport gates. Others held up guards and police at a South African Airways aircraft and helped themselves to bags of currency flown in from Britain. – Sapa



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