Durban cops arrested for theft of cigarettes and corruption granted bail
Eleven Durban police officers who were arrested on charges of theft and corruption — in two separate cigarette-related cases — have been granted bail.
The officers appeared in the Chatsworth magistrate's court on Friday.
In the first case, three police officers from Chatsworth appeared on a count of theft of cigarettes amounting to R62,500 and one count of corruption after they allegedly accepted a bribe of R4,000 from the complainant.
Rama Moodley, 47, Alicia Peters, 33, and Ashton Rajbansi, 29, appeared before magistrate Michelle Basdew.
The three were arrested on Thursday by members of the provincial anti-corruption unit after they allegedly stole five cases of cigarettes from the complainant and then accepted a bribe.
Police spokesperson Brig Jay Naicker said the incident occurred on May 8 in Chatsworth, south of Durban.
“The complainant told police that he and his friends proceeded to Unit 5 in Chatsworth to buy cigarettes. As they left the premises, an unmarked police vehicle stopped them and three police officers alighted from the vehicle.”
Naicker said the police officers questioned them and searched their vehicle.
“The police officers then stole five cases of cigarettes as well as R4,000 in cash from them. When the complainant proceeded to the police station to enquire about his case, he realised that the police officers had not handed in the seized items. He then reported the matter to the provincial anti-corruption unit for investigation.”
The court heard that none of the accused had previous convictions or pending cases against them and that they intended to plead not guilty to the charges of theft and corruption.
In the second case, eight police officers from the eThekwini inner south cluster task team appeared in court.
Joash Govender, 29, Pragashan Govender, 36, Brandin Naidoo, 35, Uzair Omarsaib, 30, Rodash Baijnath, 28, Winston Govender 29, Belvenathan Koopersam, 36, and Ashlin Tekram, 32, appeared on three counts of theft.
On the first count, the officers are alleged to have stolen R11,000 in cash and cigarettes valued at R1,200. On count two, the officers are alleged to have stolen R16,890 in cash, and on count three they are alleged to have stolen R250,000 in cash and R20,000 worth of cigarettes from a shop owner in Unit 3 of Chatsworth.
According to police, on June 8 the officers approached the complainant while he was at his shop and accused him of selling cigarettes.
“Following a search of the premises, the police officers charged him for selling cigarettes and for bribing them with R20,000 in cash.”
Naicker said when the man returned to his shop, he realised that the officers had removed two boxes containing R250,000 in cash as well as cigarettes.
“He reported the theft to police at Chatsworth who contacted the anti-corruption unit.”
All of the accused were granted bail of R2,000 with the exception of Koopersam and Tekram, who paid R3,000.
Both matters were postponed to August 21 for further investigation.
Police have indicated that investigations are ongoing and more arrests are expected.
** Police initially said that 10 police officers were arrested in Chatsworth. They have since clarified that only three officers were based at the Chatsworth police station and eight others — part of the eThekwini inner south cluster task team — were arrested, bringing the total to 11.