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Durban - Alleged “hijack” fugitive Leon Jansen van Rensburg, who was checked into a private Durban hospital on Friday, is expected to appear in court this week.
The police said his arrest was imminent and he would have to answer to a charge of perjury, as well as pay the cost of a police investigation that could amount to over R100 000.
And it would seem that this is not the first time the Pinetown father has found himself on the wrong side of the law.
The Sunday Tribune can reveal that Van Rensburg, lauded as an upstanding member of the highway community and religious stanchion in the Pinetown Methodist Church, has a chequered history, having served two years of a three-year sentence for theft in 1989.
A police source close to the investigation confirmed that Van Rensburg had been convicted of theft and, despite an appeal, had spent two years behind bars.
One year was suspended for five years. The source was unable to confirm the details surrounding the theft.
Although police spokesman Vincent Mdunge could not confirm that Van Rensburg had been convicted, the Sunday Tribune has seen documents that reflect his criminal past.
In addition to his perjury charge, the police are also investigating an alleged claim by Van Rensburg that the family car was stolen from the Pinecrest Centre in Pinetown last month, as well as the insurance claim in the wake of the sham hijacking, according to the source.
Van Rensburg went on the run last week from his New Germany home after his “hijacking” was exposed as a con. His 15-year-old daughter had received an SMS from him which read, “hlp, hijacked”.
Police searched throughout KwaZulu-Natal for the missing IT technician while his family pleaded for his safe return.
The Sunday Tribune made known that during the days he was thought to be missing and in peril, he had checked into a backpackers’ lodge in the southern Drakensberg and was described by the lodge owner as “a broken man with marital issues”.
When the police issued a warrant for Van Rensburg’s arrest, he went on the run, withdrawing R3 000 from a bank account and fleeing in a Hyundai Getz. The car was found abandoned at the International Convention Centre in Durban later that day.
In a statement, the family spokesman Rob Gardner intimated that Van Rensburg may have boarded a bus in the city.
On Monday this week, Gardner released another statement which said Van Rensburg had been found and was receiving treatment at a hospital in Cape Town.
“We consider this matter closed and will no longer be commenting to the press,” he said. He declined to comment on Van Rensburg’s prior conviction.
“It was so long ago so to find out exactly what happened is not an easy task. Records have to be requested from the national criminal records centre and that takes longer than a fortnight,” he said.
“Once he has received the treatment that he needs and the doctors are satisfied with his condition then he will be released into police custody,” Gardner said.
Mdunge said Van Rensburg was not under police guard. “In order to be under police guard one must be arrested. If he is in our custody, we become responsible for his medical expenses. The costs of this investigation are already racking up and we don’t want to drive them higher,” he said. -Sunday Tribune