Robber gets life for murdering guard during Shoprite cash heist
The high court has thrown the book at a man who took part in a foiled cash heist at a Cape Town supermarket in 2017.
Mzimasi Marasha, 34, who was sentenced in the high court in Cape Town on Friday, was one of a group of armed men who held guards and staff hostage at Shoprite in Nyanga Junction.
The robbery on May 1 was timed to coincide with the day of SA Social Security Agency payments.
Guard Patrick Castle, who responded after the store manager alerted the security company guarding the premises, was shot and later died in hospital. A shoot-out followed between the police, Marasha and his accomplices.
Eric Ntabazalila, spokesperson for the prosecution in the Western Cape, said Marasha was wounded and arrested. An accomplice who hid in the roof was shot dead.
“They forced the store manager to open the cash office and took an undisclosed amount of cash, destined for Sassa payouts. They also took computer equipment, cellular phones and clothing belonging to staff members,” said Ntabazalila.
“The store manager alerted the security company responsible for protecting the premises who, in turn, contacted the police. A 45-minute shoot-out occurred between the robbers, the armed response company and police.”
Marasha was sunk by a cap that he dropped at the scene. “He was wounded during the shoot-out and taken into custody at the scene of the crime,” said Ntabazalila.
A crime analyst employed by Shoprite told the court company stores were robbed 186 times during the 2017 financial year and eight people were killed. Western Cape stores were worst hit.
Marasha was found guilty of Castle’s murder, robbery with aggravating circumstances, illegal possession of a firearm and illegal possession of ammunition.
He was sentenced to life in prison for the murder, 15 years for robbery with aggravating circumstances, five years for illegal possession of a firearm and five years for illegal possession of ammunition.
Col Andrè Traut, the provincial police spokesperson, said police management had “lauded” the investigating officer who brought to Marasha to book.
“Sgt Luvuyo Maki of the provincial organised crime investigating unit pursued every avenue during his investigation to ensure that Marasha is removed from society for his heinous crime for a very long time,” said Traut.