Phone theft syndicate arrested

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cellphones mar 24 INDEPENDENT NEWSPAPERS File photo: Sarah Makoe

Durban - Police arrested a syndicate smuggling stolen electronic goods, including top-of-the-range cellphones, destined for Nigeria.

Acting on a tip-off from crime intelligence, members of the Durban central field unit arrested a woman and two others who were with her when she was about to board a bus to Joburg last week.

She was in possession of more than 30 smartphones, including iPhones, and PlayStations worth about R250 000.

The three suspects Edokopokar Abrahaim, 25; Mirriam Msibi, 26; and Precious Ejivo Odowo, 25, appeared in the Durban Magistrate’s Court on Monday and are remanded in custody.

Arresting officer Inspector Imraan Moola said Msibi was arrested at the Durban bus terminal and had the cellphones in her luggage.

It is believed she was to board a plane at OR Tambo International airport to Nigeria.

“She was caught with more than 30 of the phones packed neatly in her luggage. Each of them was stacked and labelled with the names of different Nigerian cities, but the phones were all blacklisted in South Africa,” said Moola.

He said police suspected the cellphones were obtained from house robberies, hijackings and other crimes.

“The cellphones are already blacklisted in the country, but when a phone crosses the border and reaches another country, it becomes usable once again.

“That is why the phones are being stolen here, so they can be sold elsewhere, out of the country,” said Moola.

It emerged this week that members of the syndicate offered arresting officers R100 000 to “let them off the hook” when the arrest was made.

“They tried to bribe their way out of the situation by offering officers a huge amount of money when they were arrested,” said Moola.

SAPS spokesman Captain Thulani Zwane confirmed the arrests of three suspects.

“We can confirm that Durban Central police station is investigating a case of possession of property, (thought) to be stolen.

“The suspects were arrested, they appeared in court on Monday and the case was postponed until August 28,” said Zwane.

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Sunday Tribune

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