A co-accused of alleged cash-in-transit heist kingpin Wellington Cenenda has been granted bail of R100 000 by the Mpumalanga High Court. David Lebakeng Mokodutle convinced the court to release him on bail on grounds including that he lived with one kidney and was therefore vulnerable to Covid-19 in jail, that there was no trial date despite being arrested in September 2018 and that he was not a flight risk.
In his judgment, Acting Judge Hein Brauckmann said Mokodutle’s bail would not cause a public outcry.
“His release on bail might cause an outcry among the investigating officers, but will not do so among the public. Many accused that allegedly stole or defrauded the government are released on bail subject to strict conditions. The amounts involved in those matters are vast and the damages done to the public immeasurable,” said Judge Brauckmann.
Mokodutle faced a raft of charges related to cash-in-transit heists alongside Cenenda and three others. The State sought to have the five found guilty of 179 counts on charges including robbery with aggravating circumstances, murder and racketeering.
Mokodutle’s charges included three counts of murder, 12 of attempted murder, 10 of robbery with aggravating circumstances, two of attempted robbery with aggravating circumstances and three of contravening the Explosives Act.
Though he was initially charged in Johannesburg over a 2015 shooting that left three Sandringham police officers dead, Mokodutle was transferred to Mpumalanga to have his case joined with that of Cenenda.
The State alleged that Mokodutle pulled a cash-in-transit heist alongside Cenenda in Kriel, Mpumalanga, in 2016. This was one of dozens of heists and robberies Cenenda was suspected to have masterminded. Nicknamed “Bibi”, Cenenda was reportedly linked to over 20 heists.
The State alleged that Mokodutle was part of a group of about 10 men involved in the killing of three police officers in 2015. Stationed at Sandringham, the officers gave chase to a BMW that was driving recklessly. The car stopped on the N3 freeway, police followed suit and pulled up behind it.
A Mercedes-Benz stopped behind the officers. A hail of bullets was then fired from both the BMW and Mercedes-Benz before the officers could alight. These details were released by the National Prosecuting Authority following the imprisonment of two men, Sandile Nyathikazi and Lucky Nhlanhleni Nzama, in 2018. Sentenced to 125 years, Nyathikazi and Nzama were believed to have worked with eight other men who were not found.
The group had allegedly conspired to rob a truck transporting cellphones and accessories from OR Tambo International Airport to Worldnet Logistics in Edenvale. Mokodutle denied all the charges he faced. He told Judge Brauckmann that Nyathikazi and Nzama confessed and did not implicate him. Opposing Mokodutle’s bail application, the State argued he should not be released because he has a propensity to violence.
Judge Brauckmann was also told Mokodutle was likely to interfere with the witnesses and abscond. But Mokodutle’s arguments triumphed. The State’s argument that Mokodutle was safer from Covid-19 in jail than outside was “not based on any evidence at all and should be rejected”, said the Judge.
“The court, sitting in Breyten, experienced many delays in matters where inmates tested positive and the accused could not attend court.”
The “unreasonable” delays in getting the trial started also favoured Mokodutle’s bail.
“The court is very concerned about the delay in this matter,” said Judge Brauckmann.