More jail time for car theft gang members

Published Feb 6, 2023


Members of an uMlazi-based car theft syndicate, who were linked to various incidents of related crime, have been put behind bars. They were sentenced recently in the Durban Regional Court.

The prosecutor-guided investigations, which dated back to 2016 when the gang's activities initially came to the fore, concluded with the sentencing of Ntuthuko Zamisa, Andile Walaza and Mthokosisi Gumede.

Minenhle Dlamini was also due to be sentenced alongside his co-accused.

He was already being held in detention on a previous conviction, but failed to present himself in court during sentencing proceedings last month.

All the accused had previous convictions related to theft of motor vehicle charges.

Magistrate Barney Visage presided over the latest matter, which related to the 2019 theft of a Ford Ranger double cab that was stolen from Durban’s Point precinct in December 2019.

The State was represented by advocate Kuveshni Pillay.

Walaza, who was considered the kingpin in the gang, received a eight year sentence for the theft of a motor vehicle charge (Ford Ranger) he faced in this instance and a further year for being in possession of car-breaking implements.

Gumede received a six-year sentence for the theft of a motor vehicle charge, while Zamisa was handed a five year prison term on the same count.

A fifth gang member has since died.

They were arrested after Inspector Joshua Chetty and other metro police officers tracked the vehicle to a site in uMlazi, where the gang members were caught red-handed, stripping the vehicle.

When police arrived on the scene, the accused attempted to flee in a Nissan Micra, which was driven by Zamisa.

During proceedings, Walaza told the court he had a bag of car--breaking implements.

The matter became a protracted affair as the accused made repeated changes to their legal teams, which brought about delays.

Visagie said these types of crimes had become rife in society, therefore, direct imprisonment was an appropriate sentence.

During the course of the trial, Walaza’s sister, Mimi, allegedly posted racial slurs and other defamatory remarks about Pillay’s handling of the matter on social media platforms, which the prosecutor regarded as “intimidation tactics” and reported it to the SAPS.

Mimi Walaza has since been formally charged with a count of crimen injuria. The matter is still proceeding in the Durban District Magistrate’s Court.

For absconding sentencing in the matter before Visagie, a previous suspended sentence of eight years that was handed to Dlamini in 2020, which related to another theft of a motor vehicle incident in 2019, has since become operational.

Prosecutor Vishalen Moodley handled that matter where Dlamini, Walaza and others were accused of stealing a Ford Ranger from Durban’s CBD.

An official from a car tracking company spotted the vehicle in KwaMashu and pursued it.

The accused abandoned the stolen vehicle and fled on foot but they were nabbed by police officers a short while later.

They were also found in possession of a police radio, which enabled them to stay abreast of police activities.

Walaza was also sentenced to eight years imprisonment, of which five years were wholly suspended for a period of five years, in that matter.