STANDARD BANK ATM BOMBING: COP INVOLVEMENT COVER UP
A Mbabane based female police officer and a Magistrate’s Court Clerk are allegedly part of a police cover up in the recent Standard Bank ATM bombing case.
The two accomplices— albeit at different degree of involvement—are currently enjoying what sources say is police protection even as four suspects are already in police custody awaiting prosecution.
The Standard Bank automated teller machine was bombed in the early hours of Friday August 19, 2022 along Sheffield Road in Mbabane. The Bridge can today reveal that a police officer is alleged to have assisted the alleged bombers by keeping surveillance of her colleagues and providing reconnaissance to the alleged robbers. The officer lives about 600 metres away while the other accomplice, a court clerk, allegedly accommodated the bombers shortly after taking the stakes of cash. This official, name known to the publication but will not be revealed for now, lives less than a kilometre away.
The police officer’s residence is within the police flats located at Ext 3 in Mbabane and is bordered by Jojo Street above, a suburb located a few hundred metres away from the industrial area where the ATM was located. Meanwhile the clerk’s residence is about a few metres from Mobeni Kuyehlela block of flats.
The August 19 early morning explosion jolted parts of the east of the capital as it could be heard from Mangwaneni to Corporation and even as far as Malunge Township. The greater shock came after revelations that the bombers got away with the money whereas alleged previous attempts had yielded no gains for them after they failed to get anything valuable from FNB, Swazi Bank and Nedbank automated teller machines.
According to well-placed sources, the police officer provided the bombers with valuable information pertaining police operations from ATM refills to locations of patrols during the alleged robbers’ rampage which occurred from the beginning of August leading to the money rewarding Standard Bank ATM bombing.
Some of the people who benefitted from the benevolence of the alleged bombers during their subsequent three days of partying spanning August 19 to 22 have voiced their disgruntlement after the police failed to arrest their own colleague yet she was allegedly part of the planning, if not the actual execution of the bombings.
In fact it is alleged that she was the give-away that a score had been made. The sudden windfall had her buying drinks for everyone while also sharing the money at a whim. Right from Friday evening which was slightly over 12 hours after the daring robbery, the usually broke cop started buying drinks for everyone. This was in stark contrast to her always asking patrons to share their drinks with her at bottle stores and bars around Msunduza. Allegations are that she bought food and alcoholic drinks amounting to over E5000 within the first 24 hours of the bombing and gave away more money to those she usually asks for alcohol from. On the other hand, local daily newspapers reported how the four alleged bombers currently in police custody bought KFC, a vehicle, groceries, clothes and alcohol.
On the flipside, neighbours to the flat which was the alleged bombers’ hideout want the court clerk out for noise caused by incessant partying. The alleged bombers are said to have used the flat to stay in and fled to immediately after each bombing attempt. Expectation was that the partying would stop after the arrests, this was however not to be as the flow of alcoholic drinks and visiting people have increased exponentially. The nonstop partying allegedly started at the beginning of August, peaking on the weekend of the successful ATM bombing. Allegations are to the effect that some of the money left by the bombers was given to the clerk who is said to be above the law.
A questionnaire sent to Chief Police Information and Communication Officer Superintendent Phindile Vilakati concerning the alleged cover up was not responded to. She said her office had difficulty responding to online publications as they were not mandated to do so by government. The questions posed were as follows:
1. Are the police protecting this female officer?
2. What has been done to recover the money which is in her possession as she was given a large sum to keep?