While a crammed courtroom listened to proceedings in the case against Rameez Patel who is accused of shooting his wife on 10 April, elsewhere in the same building three of six suspects allegedly involved in one of South Africaâ€™s biggest crime syndicates yet, appeared for their alleged involvement in two recent armed robberies at fuel stations in the city.
First accused and possibly the mastermind behind the syndicate, Kleintjie Bapela and co-accused Thabelo Mokwena and Jan Matjila are described as very dangerous and will appear in court again on 8 May facing charges of armed robbery and ATM bombing.
Bapelaâ€™s attorney, Frik Swart told Polo-kwane Observer that the six men are allegedly part of a bigger syndicate responsible for various armed robberies and ATM bombings across the country. â€œThey have pending cases which vary from armed robbery, ATM bombing, motor vehicle theft, house breaking and business robbery against them. These cases are reported in Mafikeng, Mokopane, Polokwane (3) and Gauteng (4),â€ Swart said, adding that Bapela might become a state witness as Police confirmed that he has cooperated well since his arrest.
Polokwane awakened to the news of an two armed robberies and ATM bombings at fuel stations in the city on 20 April when six armed men in a BMW got away with undisclosed amounts of money in each incident.
Provincial Police Commissioner Fannie Masemola straightway ordered the establishment of a task team to handle the case. â€œThe task team gathered information and the investigation started with a massive manhunt for the six suspects,â€ Provincial Police Spokesperson Ronel Otto said.
Within 72 hours Police were hot on their trail and succeeded in the arrest of the trio in Pretoria. Police confiscated the BMW allegedly used as getaway vehicle, seven firearms which include four pistols and three rifles and cash. Swart said R59 000 in cash was found in the BMW. The search for the remaining three is still on.