Alleged hijacked buildings kingpin smiles, waves in court
Jonathan Constable is accused of being of one of the criminals who have ruined the inner city of Johannesburg. But he was all smiles as he appeared in the Johannesburg Magistrate’s Court on Thursday.
Constable appeared alongside Bongani Khathide and Kingsley Eke in court on Thursday. They are accused of hijacking several buildings in the Johannesburg inner city.
The lawyer representing the three men‚ Dumisani Mabunda‚ initially told the magistrate he would not pursue bail for Eke‚ a Nigerian national. But after a brief break‚ Mabunda said he would apply for bail for all three men.
The bail hearing was postponed to January 10 to allow the prosecution team to properly establish the schedule of the offence that has been brought before court.
Kobus Ehlers‚ the prosecutor‚ said he needed time to speak to the senior prosecutor who had authorised the arrest warrant for the three.
He also told the court that the documentation of the investigating officer was not ready for the prosecution to proceed with the bail hearing on the day.
Eke and Mabunda appeared shy as they walked into the courtroom but Constable shared smiles and waved at people in the packed public gallery.
Constable has been identified by the City of Johannesburg as the kingpin behind a number of hijacked buildings. He and his alleged accomplices are accused of duping tenants in properties around Johannesburg by convincing them that the true property owners were hijackers and not to cooperate with them‚ according to officials.
The three men were arrested last month‚ which the City of Johannesburg described as a huge breakthrough in its fight against building hijackings.
Joburg mayor Herman Mashaba attended the court proceedings‚ accompanied by speaker of council Vasco Da Gama and the new chief of police David Tembe.
Mashaba spoke to journalist outside court.
“We’ve been after this particular individual for months. We believe he had the protection of senior people in some quarters. It looks like they are running out of steam. Our team put together a very strong case. We are going to oppose bail and actually put additional serious cases to demonstrate to this country and the city the type of damage this man has caused in our city‚” said Mashaba before the case began.
Mashaba described the arrest as simple luck.
“We were just lucky. Police were investigating a particular case that we will hear about now in court‚ and in the process found the man that our group investigation team has been looking for‚” he said.