Warrant of arrest issued for student found with R9m stuffed in luggage
A warrant of arrest was issued on Thursday for a 22-year-old student who was caught trying to leave South Africa with more than R9m in US dollars.
This was after Fayrooz Saleh failed to pitch up at the Kempton Park Magistrate's Court for the commencement of her case. Court orderlies called out for her in court and along the corridors but she failed to respond.
Moments later‚ her lawyer Ori Moloi told the court that he had last spoken to Saleh on Wednesday‚ when she informed him that she was ill. He did not have further clarity on whether she had planned to arrive for the day's proceedings.
Moloi said he had been unable to get in contact with her as he was without his phone.
State prosecutor Mcosini however requested that the court issue a warrant of arrest for her.
The court issued the warrant and postponed the matter to October 25‚ when it would be clarified whether she would lose the R20‚000 bail that she was granted in a previous appearance.
Meanwhile‚ Mcosini said he had been informed by the defence that they were finalising Saleh's plea.
If her guilty plea is accepted‚ the court could order that she pay a fine that could amount to treble the value of the goods she failed to declare‚ or that she serve jail time to a maximum of two years.
Besides failing to declare Saleh‚ believed to be from Ennerdale in Johannesburg‚ also faces a charge suggesting the cash may be the proceeds of a crime. The state alleges that she took the money knowing it was obtained unlawfully.
Saleh has no previous convictions or pending bail matters.
She was arrested at OR Tambo International Airport on September 11 when she was to depart for Hong Kong.
According to court documents‚ she was stopped by officials from the SA Revenue Service (Sars) who took her to the customs area. They opened her luggage in her presence and found $630‚700 (R9m). When questioned‚ she said she was heading to Hong Kong to buy goods.
The young woman had told the court that she could only afford bail of R10‚000 but was granted bail of R20‚000 instead.
Following her arrest‚ Sars said in a statement that she had initially denied having the currency in her possession. But when questioned further she admitted to having a substantial sum of money in her backpack.
“She admitted that she was not the owner of the currency‚ nor could she provide any proof of ownership‚” the statement read.