The Durban District Court sentenced five men: Mduduzi Buthelezi (52), Sphelele Mazibuko (22), Mandla Ngcobo (59), John Thobela (46) and Sabelo Shandu (23) to various terms of imprisonment following their conviction on the theft they committed in July 2021, during the looting and civil unrest that took place in KwaZulu-Natal.

During this period, a business in Chesterville, Ayoba Cold Storage, was looted and partly burnt by members of the public. The owner of the business, Mr. Luthuli (67) imported meat from Brazil which he sold to various franchises/stores. A while after the looting, police in the area were conducting stop and search operations when they stopped a bakkie driven by one of the accused. He was transporting about 60 boxes at the back and his co-accused were sitting on top of the boxes. They were taken to the police station where Luthuli identified the goods as his.

In court, District Court Prosecutor Shenaaz Hoosen led the testimonies of the investigating officer and Luthuli. Luthuli told the court that he was able to identify his boxes due to the Brazil stickers that were on them. He said that the looting had caused him to lose millions of rands that he is yet to recover.

The accused were sentenced accordingly: Buthelezi, Ngcobo and Thobela were sentenced to 10 years imprisonment each, while Mazibuko and Shandu were each sentenced to five years imprisonment. The Asset Forfeiture Unit of the NPA, represented by State Advocate Sakhile Ngcobo and Senior Special Investigator Akbar Ally, obtained a high court order granting the attachment of Thobela’s bakkie which was used in the commission of the offence.

This case is an example of how the units within the NPA are working together with the SAPS to ensure that criminals are brought to justice. We hope that the sentences will have the desired deterrent effect. We commend the work done by both prosecution and investigation team.

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