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ANC wants ‘offical’ to be denied bail


jan 24 official in sting

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A Gauteng Hawks member arrests a man in Braamfontein, Joburg, after he had just written off about R346 000 in arrears owed to the council by a single account holder on two accounts. Photo: Ihsaan Haffejee

The Joburg man who we helped get arrested for corruption is an old hand at it, according to the Joburg ANC.

The party said at the weekend there were several more cases being investigated against the man, including the fraudulent sale of houses.

The man – who went by the name Frans but bore a City Power employee card with the name Lucas Malibongwe Cele on it – is in possession of two identity cards.

The alleged fraudster was caught in a sting operation by the Gauteng Hawks, the City of Johannesburg and The Star. Just after his arrest, he was charged for corruption at the Johannesburg Magistrate’s Court on Thursday, under his identity as Lucas Cwele, and was remanded in jail until this Friday.

According to the Hawks’s Colonel Alf Lebea, the man will apply for bail.

Lebea said he was still awaiting details of further account holders who had been scammed.

“There is overwhelming evidence against him already,” he said.

Several people have come forward, admitting to have been conned by the alleged fraudster. The council has not explained how he got access to the computer system if he was not an employee – as it claims.

In a statement issued after the announcement of the arrest, the Joburg branch of the ANC called on the Directorate of Public Prosecutions not to grant the suspect bail when he appears in court.

ANC head of communications Jolidee Matonga said that because he had two identity documents, he was a flight risk. “We urge the court to deny him bail as we also believe he is but a small part of a bigger syndicate.”

In addition, his detention would allow police to investigate further and arrest others involved in the scam and the fraudulent sale of houses.

It now appears that the man was not actually writing off the debts, despite residents forking out thousands of rand to have the debt cleared.

However, the involvement of staff working in the city’s revenue department is suspected, and is being investigated, because the man arrested had the exact information and account numbers of the residents he attempted to bribe.

Although the council says he is not in its employ, he was in possession of personal identification documents identical to the ones issued by the council to its employees.

The City of Joburg has stated it cannot reveal any more information as it does not want to jeopardise the Hawks’s investigation.

An initial check on Monday by The Star reveals that the two accounts, which we “paid” R20 000 to have cleared, and for which the man showed proof that they had zero balances, are still, in fact, in arrears.

Matonga said the ANC’s Joburg region would warn residents not to pay money to people outside municipal offices, but only at council-approved paypoints, and that customers must insist on getting receipts for payments – even if they were threatened with cut-offs.

If the municipal authorities fail to assist them, they should approach their parliamentarians for help.

“We would also like to commend the account holders who helped in the arrest and, in particular, a special thanks goes to The Star newspaper for their efforts in ensuring that this criminal was arrested,” Matonga said. - The Star


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