An accomplice witness in the trial of three men accused of robbing First National Bank (FNB) of over M4 million seven years ago on Tuesday told the High Court how he hid the stolen money at his Khubetsoana home.
Sekhonyana Justice Ntlhabo (67) was giving evidence in a case in which former FNB employee Lehlohonolo Tsikinyane and Lehlohonolo ‘Mote of Upper Thamae as well as Lisema Ramokhoabane from Ha-Seoli are charged with robbing the bank of M4.3 million on 26 October 2008.
Ntlhabo told presiding judge, Justice Tšeliso Monaphathi, that the accused and his son, Monaheng who has also turned into an accomplice witness, held a meeting at his residence on the day of the robbery but was not aware of what they were discussing.
“When I arrived home that day, I found my son, Monaheng, with a group of men that I did not know at the time. They were in the sitting room,” he said.
“I did not attend the meeting because when I came out of the bedroom, they had already gone. I went to town to buy some groceries and on my return, I went into my bedroom to have some rest.
“When I was still resting, I heard some footsteps leading to Monaheng’s room and suddenly, there was a sound as if something heavy had been dropped on the floor. I heard the foot-steps again leading to the exit door and I slept.”
Ntlhabo further told the court he later received a call from Monaheng requesting to meet him at a certain residence in Khubetsoane and collect his clothes.
“When I arrived, he came out of a white car carrying a red travel-bag and approached my vehicle. He opened the door of my vehicle and put the bag on the rear-seat. My son told me the bag contained money and that I should hide it where nobody could find it.
“He also told me I should go to his room and hide the money he had put under the bed. He was in a hurry and told me that he would explain everything about the money later and he left,” Ntlhabo said.
Ntlhabo further told the court that when he went home, he found the money scattered next to his son’s bed.
“The money was in M20 000 bundles and it was Lesotho currency. I took the money and hid it in our washing machine, while I put the one in the red bag on a chair in my bedroom.
“I went to work the following day, but when I came back, my daughter, Nthabiseng, said Monaheng had called and said I should give one Monki M25 000 from the money that was in his bedroom which I did.
“The following day, Nthabiseng asked for M10 000 and I also obliged until the third day when I decided to hide the money where she would not see it.
“At the time, I did not know about Monaheng’s whereabouts because he only seemed to be communicating with Nthabiseng.”
Ntlhabo further said he only knew Monaheng was in Bloemfontein the following week when he called and asked for South African currency.
“He said he only had Lesotho currency which he could not use in Bloemfontein,” Ntlhabo said. “When I refused to send Nthabiseng to give him the money, he immediately switched off the phone.
“That same week, Nthabiseng took my granddaughter as she visited her friend called Refiloe in Moshoeshoe II.
“But before leaving home, she had told me to throw away the Central Processing Unit (CPU) that she had burnt near our toilet,” he said.
The CPU had also been stolen from FNB and contained surveillance footage from the bank’s security cameras.
“One day when I arrived home from work, I received a call from a lady called ‘Mamojabeng telling me that her daughter Mojabeng and Nthabiseng, had been taken by the police.
“I immediately knew that I was the next to be arrested and indeed, the police arrived at my home at around midnight. They arrested me and took me to Pitso Ground Police Station where they asked me about the stolen money from FNB.
“I told the police that I was keeping the money at my home and had no problem handing it over to them.
“They locked me in a cell until the next day when they took me to my home to retrieve the money,” Ntlhabo told the court.
The trial still proceeds and is prosecuted by Crown Counsel Motsei Tlali, while the defence team comprises King’s Counsel Motiea Teele and Haae Phoofolo well as Advocate Monaheng Rasekoai.