Family terrified after ‘attacker’ bailed
'How could the judge do this?' asks state witness who fears for her and her son's lives after five-hour ordeal
A prominent Limpopo businesswoman, Clive Mashele, and her family are living in fear after one of the suspects who hijacked her and her son from their home in Nkowankowa last year has been released from jail on bail without their knowledge.
“I am really scared, and just can’t sleep at night. How did this happen? How was this suspect granted bail while it is known that he is facing serious crimes?” said Mashele, who is well known in Limpopo for her community work.
On September 27, a day before the trial of Gideon Sambo was due to start, he was released on bail by the Polokwane High Court after winning an appeal against a decision by the Nkowankowa Magistrate’s Court not to grant bail.
Sambo and his co-accused were facing charges of attempted murder, kidnapping and two counts of robbery. His co-accused could not raise bail money.
“Sambo and his team are known to be dangerous and we are honestly scared of what will happen to our lives now. I’ve asked the police detective investigating this case of what happened and he was in the dark, and the NPA say they will come back to me next week,” said Mashele.
Mashele, whose projects have seen houses, school uniforms, school furniture and musical instruments being donated to poor communities in Limpopo, said she fears for her and her son’s lives because they are state witnesses.
“We don’t even know the bail conditions of the case. What kind of court judge would release suspects without the knowledge of the investigating officer and me as the victim?” she asked.
Mashudu Malabi- Dzhangi, National Prosecuting Authority (NPA) spokesperson for Limpopo, confirmed that Sambo had been released on bail.
“The suspect, Gideon Sambo was released after he appealed in the High Court in Polokwane. He was granted bail and there was nothing wrong with that, as any person, including suspects, has the right to appeal a conviction or bail,” said Malabi-Dzhangi.
If the family were not happy they should contact the NPA. “It’s not like the suspect has been acquitted. He’s still facing the same charges and is expected back in the court for the same case.”
Malabi-Dzhangi said the trial was postponed.
In July 2017, Mashele and her son were held at gunpoint at their home, and gold aggregates (soil samples containing traces of gold) from a mine prospecting project, a Mercedes-Benz and cellphones were stolen.
She said the gold aggregates are worth millions of rand.
Sambo and his co-accused allegedly demanded money from them at gunpoint. Mashele and her son, who was 20 at the time, were at home when it happened. She believes the intruders were told there was cash at the house.
“They searched around looking for money, they went almost into every room ... since I was worried that they could kill us, I asked them to take our mine aggregate we got from the land we were prospecting,” she said.
The men took that and drove around with the mother and son as they wanted money from their bank accounts. Mashele’s son was locked in the boot and she was held captive in the back seat as they drove to a fuel station to draw cash from an ATM.
At the fuel station the accused tried to switch getaway vehicles by hijacking another vehicle, but its owner was an off-duty cop. He was shot at and retaliated.
“That was a traumatic experience and we prayed throughout,” she said.
The robbers then made off in Mashele’s Mercedes-Benz. She was eventually dropped off but they kept her son in the boot.
“I was praying for my son to be released safe and that happened. But today I need proper justice, I need the judge who released them to answer and I have to find those answers.”
Limpopo provincial police spokesperson Colonel Moatshe Ngoepe said Sambo was released on bail after an urgent bail application in the high court.
“The suspect, Gideon Sambo, aged 32 handed himself to Ritavi police on 27 June 2018 and was arrested and charged with attempted murder, robbery and kidnapping. He appeared in the Nkowankowa Magistrate’s Court on the same day and was denied bail.
“The suspect was later released on R5,000 bail by the high court after an urgent application by his attorney.”
But Mashele is not convinced that the court made the right decision.
“They threatened us; we thought that they were going kill us. This premature release of one of them is reminding us of that traumatic experience. It has taken us back to that five-hour ordeal we experienced,” said Mashele.