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Sat Jul 02 11:33:05 CAT 2016

Wanted 'SSA mastermind' battled to turn himself in - lawyer

Karabo Ngoepe | 24 January, 2016 09:11
South Korean won, Chinese yuan and Japanese yen notes are seen on U.S. 100 dollar notes in this picture illustration taken in Seoul
South Korean won, Chinese yuan and Japanese yen notes are seen on U.S. 100 dollar notes in this picture illustration taken in Seoul, South Korea, December 15, 2015.
Image by: KIM HONG-JI / REUTERS

The alleged mastermind behind the multi-million rand theft from the State Security Agency repeatedly tried to hand himself over to the Hawks.

News24 revealed on Sunday that despite police releasing a photograph of the man last week, as well as a reward for information leading to his arrest, his lawyer's attempts to hand his client over were repeatedly ignored. 

The man and his lawyer showed a News24 reporter a series of text messages between police and the lawyer showing that he wanted to hand himself over.

"My client has been trying to hand himself over since Monday but no one was prepared to [arrest him]," the man's lawyer, advocate Sammy Mahlangu told News24.

"I made arrangements to hand him over to police but a colonel at the Hawks informed me that he was not in Pretoria but would be back on January 22."

Hawks spokesperson Brigadier Hangwani Mulaudzi said they would not be engaging the lawyer in the media regarding his claims.

"The man was wanted and he [Mahlangu] did the right thing by bringing him in. Anything else can be taken to court. The courts of this country are very accommodating and they can raise the issue there," he said.

"We appreciate the support of the community because they have been calling with tips," he added. 

The man has been described in the media as the alleged mastermind behind the multi-million rand theft of foreign currency at the SSA. Two others have already appeared in court in connection with the crime.

'Never on the run'

After the man's picture was released and the announcement of the reward was made, members of the public were urged to not attempt to apprehend him as he was believed to be dangerous.

The news report infuriated Mahlangu who said his client was never on the run.

Following the publication, the lawyer got in touch with the same colonel to find out what was happening. He then contacted the investigating officer.

On Wednesday morning Mahlangu sent the investigating officer an SMS informing him that the wanted man was at the Pretoria Magistrate's Court and was ready to be arrested. They left the court at 10:00 after waiting since 07:30.

"I did not get a response from the officer. I then contacted the colonel trying to find out what had happened and he said... the agreement we made [to hand over the man on January 22] still stood.

"I then contacted Brigadier Mulaudzi who sent out the pictures but he referred everything to the colonel. We went to three different police stations but nothing happened," said Mahlangu.

The man and his lawyer said the media statement had caused his family a lot of distress and put his life in danger. 

On Friday afternoon they went to the Silverton Police station where he was supposed to be arrested but again, nothing happened.

They were then contacted to visit the Hawks' offices in the CBD. The man was finally arrested on Friday evening and taken to Silverton Police station.

Source: News24

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