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MBABANE - The four accused persons in the bombing of the Standard Bank ATM are reported to have gone on a shopping spree soon after the commission of the offence.

The items said to have been bought by the accused included a bucket of fried chicken from KFC, a motor vehicle which they purchased from a car dealership in Matsapha, groceries and lots of clothes. This was revealed when they recorded a confession at the Mbabane Magistrates Court before different magistrates. The accused persons reportedly gave different versions on the circumstances leading to their arrest. In their different confessions, the trio further revealed that they also used part of the money to buy alcoholic beverages.


It has since emerged that the amount of money found in their possession was about E137 000. The arrested suspects include three South African nationals along with a liSwati, who is employed by Eswatini Television Authority (ESTVA). The quartet was arrested while at Checkers in Mbabane, well above 24 hours after the automated teller machine (ATM) was bombed, near the industrial site in the capital city. The South African nationals reportedly entered the Kingdom of Eswatini a few weeks ago. They are also implicated in the bombing of an ATM belonging to the First National Bank (FNB) in the Central Business District. However, no money was stolen there.


After the incident, the bank issued a statement where it disclosed that all the cash was preserved and even if it was accessed by the perpetrators, it would have not been useful as it was completely stained by the dye-ink which is loaded in all FNB ATMs. In the recent bombing, while in the country, they are alleged to have attempted to bomb two ATMs, one situated next to the KFC outlet in Mbabane and the other next to Spar, also in the capital city. It was gathered that the accused returned to South Africa before they returned with a new plan to bomb the Standard Bank ATM situated at the Mbabane Industrial Site. Even though the modus operandi (a particular way of doing something) they employed during the commission of the offence was not revealed, it was gathered that a car battery and granite were used to blow up the ATM. During their confessions, the suspects alleged that after bombing the Standard Bank ATM, where money was stolen, they proceeded to Matsapha, where they purchased a brand new red Polo sedan.

They alleged that they used some of the money in the purchase of clothing at a certain shop in Ezulwini. The accused persons informed one of the judicial officers that they managed to pass through some roadblocks while driving in the newly-purchased vehicle. In vernacular, they told the judicial officer that ‘besicela indlela’, meaning they negotiated their way.
However, they did not expand on what they really meant though, as they were not apprehended at any of the roadblocks. They further disclosed that they purchased groceries and alcoholic beverages around Mbabane. One of them confided in the magistrate that traffic police officers who had mounted a roadblock at Mangwaneni in Mbabane questioned them, after seeing the numerous items they had bought, inside the car.


The other suspects told the judicial officer that they were arrested while at Checkers, where some of their accomplices managed to escape. They said about four gunshots were fired in the air during their arrest. They claimed that more of the stolen money fled with their accomplices who were still at large. The accused persons arrived at the Mbabane Magistrates Court in a white Toyota Quantum, with armed officers also on board. It was escorted by a white double cab van in which there were other armed police officers. When the accused persons emerged from the magistrates’ chambers, where they recorded their confessions, they covered their faces for the duration of their stay in the premises of the court. It is believed they will make their first remand today.

Meanwhile, a security guard in one of the businesses where the bombed Standard Bank ATM was situated, narrated to Eswatini News that it was at about 3am when he saw three people walking hesitantly along the street. “Usually, we start seeing people rushing to work at around 4:30am, which is why it was odd to see people at that time of the morning. I stretched my neck to enquire, but they seemed to have disappeared. I then returned to my spot,” he said.


The security guard said before seeing the three, he had seen a police car, patrolling along the Sheffield Road. “Soon thereafter, there was a loud explosion which shook the ground. I thought it was an electric transformer bursting, but when I looked around I did not see it. In less than a moment, the explosion hit again, I saw three men picking things from the ground near the ATM. They were disturbed by a police car that was coming about 300 metres away, and they fled towards the Mbabane Burial Society,” he said. The security guard said a night watchman in one of the businesses also said he had seen the men helping each other to carry a bag and they fled on foot into the thick forest between the industrial site and Mountain Inn.
He said the police who disturbed the three searched the forest but did not find them.

The guard said when the police asked him what had happened, he said two of the thugs had ordered him to lie on the ground and pressed their feet on his head, while one was collecting something from the ATM. He said the he was protecting business premises close to the crime scene. For the better part of Friday morning, police cordoned off the crime scene while collecting evidence together with the workers from Standard Bank. This is the second incident of the bombing of an ATM within a space of a month.

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