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Bank robber on political pardon list

HE WAS a clerk who helped a gang to rob his bank of nearly R10 million – and now he may get a presidential pardon. It’s not clear how Phethuxolo Aubrey Godolozi won a recommendation from a parliamentary committee for a pardon for a politically motivated offence, when he was convicted of a robbery carried out four years after the advent of democracy.

Godolozi worked for Standard Bank in Mthatha, and helped a gang to rob the bank of R9.6m in November, 1998.

In May 2002 he was jailed for 20 years. Six fellow conspirators were sentenced to 17 and 18 years each.

Now Godolozi is on the list of 149 recommended for presidential pardons. His co-accused are not on the list. His political affiliation is not listed.

The pardons process was set up in 2007 by then president Thabo Mbeki, and is for those convicted of politically related actions committed before June 16, 1999.

A parliamentary committee looked at 2 300 applications and sent recommendations to the Department of Justice before the end of Mbeki’s term. The process was delayed by court challenges, and the shortlist of 149 was finally released this week to comply with a courtorder that victims be consulted.

Former parliamentary committee chairman Tertius Delport said he could not remember Godolozi’s case but confirmed that crimes had to be politically motivated to get a recommendation for a pardon.

Standard Bank and the Justice Department did not respond to requests for comment.

After the robbery, police initially looked for a gang of 11 armed with AK-47s – then homed in on two clerks.

The judgment in their unsuccessful appeal records how Godolozi and two colleagues said they were taken by a gang one night and questioned about the bank’s security systems. Early the next morning, the robbers took the employees to the bank, turned off the alarms and got into the vault.

The three told police they were forced to help the robbers.

Within hours, police suspicion focused intense scrutiny on two of the three, Siyabulela Tandwa and Godolozi.

Investigators found lapses in banking procedures and foreknowledge of the bank’s systems that pointed to Godolozi and Tandwa being involved in the robbery.

Bank officials described how Godolozi and Tandwa had failed to sign crucial registers for locking up money the day before the robbery.

By the time of sentencing, only R600 000 of the stolen money had been recovered.


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