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OR Tambo Airport heist suspects back in court including Zimbo

By Mashudu Netsianda

One of the suspected key figures in the multi-million rand OR Tambo International Airport heist that happened early this month, Prince Raphael Dube (43), a Zimbabwean, shocked the court on Tuesday when he revealed that he earned R400 000 a month.

OR Tambo Airport heist suspects back in court
OR Tambo Airport heist suspects back in court

According to South African media reports, Dube, in his affidavit‚ said his exhibition stalls business generates R400 000 a month and he could afford R30 000 bail.

Dube was allegedly responsible for cloning the police vehicle used in the March 7, R200-million heist. He was arrested in Norkem Park, northern Kempton Park in Gauteng.

However, the investigating officer Colonel Mabina Mahlangu revealed in his affidavit that R20.7 million was stolen in the heist, and the reports of R24 million in foreign currency were false.

The affidavit also mentioned Dube and Sonqishe’s girlfriends were found with cash from the heist.

Dube together with four other suspects appeared at Kempton Park Magistrate’s Court for bail application. They are charged with armed robbery.

The other suspects are Thokwane Simon (37), Mathabatha Frans Manaka (30), Sibusiso Job Mnisi (39) and Mosiwa Steven Motani (35) and Thando Sonqishe (39)

Dube’s co-accused, Sonqishe‚ the man who appeared in social media with a multi-million-rand Lamborghini‚ said that if he stayed in jail he would contract diseases given the poor state of prison facilities.

Sonqishe’s lawyer Mr Victor Nkwashu told the court that his client could also afford R30 000 bail.

“My client was embarrassed by the manner in which the police handled his arrest and publicised in the media. And if he continues in prison his transport business will suffer and his family will be left destitute‚” he said.

Prosecutor Mr Pieter Erasmus opposed bail and said the men were facing serious charges of armed robbery and investigations were underway to effect more arrests.

Another suspect was added to the OR Tambo heist case during proceedings at the Kempton Park Magistrates’ Court.

When the court proceedings resumed after the lunch break, an unnamed man who was arrested on Sunday, was brought into the court room and his charge sheet was written.

His case was postponed today in order for him to receive legal representation.

Dube and Sonqishe are allegedly part of the gang suspected of being involved in what is considered one of South Africa’s biggest heists.

The court heard that R13 000 was found at Sonqishe’s girlfriend’s residence, while R1 million was found under a washing machine at Dube’s girlfriend’s home.

Col Mahlangu said that Standard Bank confirmed that the notes were linked to the heist. Dube’s girlfriend said she did not ask him where the money came from.

Mr Erasmus said both Dube and Sonqishe had previously been involved in various crimes which included fraud and armed robbery. Earlier, Sonqishe told the court that he had no previous run-ins with the law.

Col Mahlangu’s affidavit said that Dube was undocumented and was a Zimbabwean who came into South Africa illegally, was unemployed, and used false documentation to receive money.

The court heard that Dube was employed as a stand exhibitionist and was earning R400 000 per month.

When Dube was arrested, he was found with an identity document that belonged to another person but had his picture. He was previously convicted of fraud and drunken driving.

When he was arrested, Dube was allegedly found with a South African Police Service (SPV) bullet proof vest.

He allegedly admitted that the vehicle used was branded like an SPV vehicle, and he allegedly had a “safe house” where the heist vehicles were modified.

Sonqishe allegedly supplied the blue police lights. When they were arrested, both men allegedly admitted to being part of the planning and execution of the heist. The Chronicle