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A National Prosecuting Authority investigator, who was charged in connection with an extortion scam, and his co-accused were granted bail of R5 000 in the Durban Magistrate’s Court yesterday.
Mark Baker, 42, of Glen Hills, who works in the NPA’s risk services department, was arrested along with his co-accused, Farhad Rangila, 49, of Berea, by the Pietermaritzburg Hawks last week after a lengthy investigation.
Police allege that, in April last year, Baker and Rangila approached an Overport businessman and extorted R500 000 from him to make a bogus fraud case go away. Baker, who is a former police officer, had allegedly told the man he was investigating a fraud case regarding money the man had received from the Department of Trade and Industry.
After the man was allegedly taken into custody and interrogated at the Durban Central police cells, he apparently agreed to hand over the cash and was taken to the bank.
The man made the payment and he was released. After his release, the businessman reported the incident to his lawyer and a case was opened.
Yesterday, Baker said in an affidavit to support his bail application that he was the sole breadwinner for his family and if he was kept in prison, his employment would be placed in jeopardy
Both men said they intended pleading not guilty to the charges against them and were not aware of what evidence the police had against them. They added that they were aware of the case since last year and had not interfered with witnesses or the investigation.
Magistrate Anitha Govender granted bail, but ordered both men to hand in their passports and report to the Berea police station once a week.
The case was adjourned to August for further investigation.