Heist accused had a passion for fashion
Four men accused of spate of clothes store robberies in East London
An alleged Duncan Village gang of fashion-obsessed business robbers, with a special love for clothing, is watching charges pile up against them.
Police yesterday testified that some of the clothing stolen – and which the accused were found wearing – was so in vogue that they had not yet been launched in stores.
The four are accused of terrorising businesses across East London in recent months.
They face four charges, but – when an identification parade is completed – soon may face another two charges, giving a total of six.
This was the evidence led by investigating officer Sergeant Phindile Songwiqi before magistrate Joel Cesar on Wednesday.
Songwiqi said the identification parade would take place later in the day.
The accused have been in custody since November 1 when they were arrested by Gonubie police.
Dumisani Ntsengu, 27, Monwabisi Bengwa, 50, Lindikhaya Jadi, 34, and Zukile Yedwa, 34, are accused of armed holdups at Pep Store in Albert Street, Tekkie Town in Terminus Street, Choice Clothing in Union Street and Alma Knitwear near East London police station during a month-long crime spree between October 2 and November 1.
On that fateful day, Songwiqi told the court, the four were arrested in a getaway car while driving towards Kei river.
Two illegal semi-automatic firearms were found in their possession.
He said that minutes earlier the gang had robbed Choice Clothing of a large amount of clothes and cellphones.
Songwiqi said police found clothing, cellphones, cellphone boxes, safety boots and bags when they raided the homes of the accused in Duncan Village in the wake of their arrest.
He said some of the clothing items, which had since been positively identified by owners, were being worn by the accused men when they were arrested by Gonubie police.
Some items from previous robberies were also found in their getaway vehicle, said Songwiqi.
He said that on October 2 the four men robbed Tekkie Town, two of them brandishing firearms.
He said they held up staff, customers and the store manager at gunpoint, grabbed sneakers and cellphones and loaded them in a bag before fleeing with R7,000.
On October 23, Songwiqi said, they hit Pep Stores, again armed with two firearms.
They held up a security guard and took him to cashiers, where they demanded money and cellphones.
The group, according to Songwiqi, also pushed the store manager into a small room where they bagged a large number of cellphones and an undisclosed amount of cash, overalls and safety boots.
He said the list of cellphones taken during that incident filled two pages.
On the same day, Songwiqi said, they barged into Alma Knitwear wearing blue overalls and took more than 60 jerseys at gunpoint.
Clothing from Pep, LTD and Truworths, kept at the store, was also taken, while they also escaped with R12,000.
The heist on November 1 at Choice Clothing was the store’s fifth robbery in 13 months. On June 6, 12 and 16, the store was robbed by heavily armed men, setting the business back by R25,000; and
In October 2017 the shop safe was robbed of R13,605 in business takings. Songwiqi testified: “We then booked them out on November 2, visited all their households, and we found cellphones and a lot of cellphone boxes in all their homes.
“We also recovered [sneakers] from Tekkie Town in all their houses, the Pep safety boots, the blue overalls still with price tags, and the bags, all of which were positively identified by the owners.”
He said two of the accused were arrested while wearing jerseys allegedly stolen from Alma Knitwear.
“There is no way they could have bought them as the items were not yet available in the shops.”
A cap found in one of their homes, Songwiqi said, was positively identified as the one worn by one robber during the Pep robbery.
Some of the accused have previous convictions in cases similar to these ones, some in the Western Cape, the court heard.
Cesar will deliver his bail ruling on Friday...