Johannesburg - A most-wanted British fugitive found hiding in plain sight in Midrand will be heading back to his home shores in the next month or so.
Martin Evans grinned on Monday as the cluster of photographers allowed into the Randburg Magistrate’s Court took photos of the man, who is believed to have been part of an international drug cartel that smuggled shipments of ecstasy and cocaine into Britain.
This was just one of the schemes - among others a fraudulent ostrich farm in Spain - that helped the 52-year-old Welshman reportedly accrue an estimated £40 million (R715.3m).
In 2011, Evans received permission to return home from prison for a short time during his UK incarceration, but then skipped the country.
Interpol was baffled over his whereabouts until it received a tip-off that he had been spotted in Midrand using an alias.
A week ago, police arrested Evans at his cluster home in Blue Hills.
National police spokesman Lieutenant-Colonel Solomon Makgale said investigators and the Department of Home Affairs were trying to determine how long he had been in South Africa, but it appears that his stay was a pleasant one.
Evans returned on Monday to the Randburg Magistrate’s Court for his extradition hearing, seemingly happy at the media attention, wryly smiling at his young fiancée and winking at journalists on occasion.
The National Prosecuting Authority’s expert on extradition, advocate JJ du Toit, told the court that Evans had been convicted in the UK of conspiracy to supply class-A drugs, fraud and contempt of court.
It emerged in court that he had absconded at the tail-end of his lengthy sentence.
When he is returned to Britain, he will have to spend another 333 days - less than a year - behind bars.
Du Toit said this did not necessarily include the sentence on new charges he would face for fleeing from justice.
Evans’s lawyer, advocate William Karam, told the court that his client would not oppose the extradition, and that he had no desire to appeal against the court’s ruling that he be shipped back home.
But Justice and Correctional Services Minister Michael Masutha will have the final say on the matter.
Du Toit insisted this was a formality and that Evans would most likely be sent back to the UK within the next month or more.
Before the court proceedings got under way, Evans and his lawyer had agreed to speak to The Star, but police officers in court and those escorting the man back to prison in Pretoria would not allow the interview to take place.
Questions remain on Evans’s business and social activities in South Africa, why he chose to come here and whether he will return after he has completed his next stint in prison.