Suspects in court for spate of Cape Town mall robberies

Written by Yazeed Kamaldien

Two men allegedly linked to a string of Cape Town mall robberies, while dressed as police officers, appeared at the Wynberg Magistrate’s Court on Friday.

State prosecutor Rahidien Cullis told the court it is believed the men are part of a “bigger syndicate” involved in a spate of mall robberies that left Cape Town shaken late last year.

Oscar Barends, 41, from Mandalay and Tembalethu Mpalweni, 26, from Nyanga appeared in the court for armed robbery.

They were arrested for allegedly stealing jewellery and diamonds from the Isis jewellery shop at Hout Bay harbour, Hout Bay, on October 24 last year.

The incident occurred shortly after 12pm when the two entered the store with three other men. They were all in police uniforms.

Cullis said the suspects made off with jewellery and diamonds to the value of R2,5-million, which had not yet been recovered.

He told the court Barends was arrested on December 30 at his house. Mpalweni was arrested in Silver City, Mitchell’s Plain, on January 16.

“Police were looking for him (Mpalweni) and one of their informers called them when they saw him in the area,” said Cullis.

Police had also traced via cell phone records that both suspects were in Hout Bay on the day the Hout Bay jewellery store was robbed.

“Police showed 45 photos to the (Isis) store owner who was in the store at the time of robbery,” said Cullis.

“Mpalweni’s fingerprints were found on a clipboard in the owner’s office. He and the others took the owner to the back in his office where they found more diamonds.”

Cullis told the court Barends “has been charged in another robbery of a jewellery store and is out on bail”.

“Mpalweni is also linked to two armed robberies. One is for a jewellery store in Fish Hoek. He will appear on Tuesday in Simon’s Town court for that. The other is for an armed robbery of a Vodacom store in Kuils River,” said Cullis.

Barends is meanwhile linked to a jewellery store robbery in Canal Walk in October last year.

“He was at a garage outside Canal Walk. He was in a getaway car. The suspects phoned him and he drove off with the car,” said Cullis.

“Cameras at Canal Walk caught an image of the car he was driving. Police found that the car he was driving belongs to his wife.”

Cullis added: “We know they are linked to a bigger syndicate.”

Barends is also linked to another mall robbery court case at a different court, said Cullis.

“He has not yet been charged as police are investigating for a more substantial link,” he said.

The two suspects have not yet made a plea at the court, but indicated via lawyers that they would stand their ground. Their lawyer argued they know nothing about it.

The two suspects are back in court for a bail application hearing tomorrow (Monday).

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About Yazeed Kamaldien

Self-employed journalist and photographer from South Africa.

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