East London robbers targeting BAT delivery vans slapped with lengthy jail sentences

SEPTEMBER 28, 2016

Three armed robbers, who targeted British American Tobacco (BAT) vehicles in the East London area were handed lengthy jail terms by the East London Regional Court on Monday.

This is after the court found Zamuxolo Tambo (37) and Songezo Calata (27) guilty of armed robbery after they accosted a BAT delivery vehicle and the driver before driving off with an estimated R160 000 worth of stolen cigarettes. They were slapped with 15 years imprisonment each.  

The sentencing of Tambo and Calata comes a month after Simthembile Mtanga (39) was sentenced on 18 August 2016 by the same court to 30 years imprisonment for armed robbery and kidnapping as well.

"Between September and October 2014, Mtanga and other two suspects, who are still at large, embarked on a reign of terror targeting British American Tobacco (BAT) vehicles," described police spokesperson, Captain Anelisa Feni.

"These crimes resulted in the theft of a total of 1 978 cartons of cigarettes valued at R530 781. Four drivers, who fell victim to the armed robbers were kidnapped but escaped unhurt."

On 26 March 2016, a 33-year-old BAT driver was about to deliver cigarettes at a tavern in Beacon Bay, East London, when he was allegedly confronted by four armed men and was forcefully locked inside the back of the BAT van. 

"The suspects offloaded the cigarettes into a gold Nissan Livina and drove off leaving the driver still locked inside the van," said Cpt Feni.

"The Hawks were able to arrest Calata the same day after assistance from community members. He was arrested as he was transporting school children. A month later, the Hawks pounced on Tambo."

Investigations are still continuing to trace the other two alleged suspects.