Johannesburg - For a man who has been on the run from international police for three years, Martin Evans has certainly done well for himself in South Africa.
Evans is believed to have led an international drug cartel that smuggled ecstasy and cocaine into Britain, started a fraudulent ostrich farm scheme and escaped from a 21-year prison sentence by fleeing the UK in 2011.
While investigators are still trying to determine through the Department of Home Affairs how long he has been in South Africa, the Welshman looks like he has been living a comfortable life in the suburbs of Midrand for some time.
His young, beautiful fiancée drives an expensive white BMW, he lives in an upmarket cluster home in Midrand, and when he appeared for the first time in the Randburg Magistrate’s Court on Monday, he was sporting designer spectacles.
For a 52-year-old, he has also managed to maintain a fit frame. When he spotted his Cypriot fiancée in the court gallery, he blew her a quick kiss and gave a wry wink.
His name wasn’t known to many South Africans until this weekend, when police sent out a statement revealing they’d received information that a most wanted British fugitive was staying in Midrand.
Police arrested him at his Blue Hills home on Saturday night.
It was after the arrest that his story caught the media’s attention, with numerous publishers and broadcasters waiting for the “fugitive” to make his appearance in court.
Advocate JJ du Toit, an expert in extradition law at the National Prosecuting Authority, is handling the case, waiting for his chance to send Evans back to the UK.
The country has requested that Evans be extradited to serve the remainder of his sentence as soon as possible.
It was also revealed that Evans had an issue with his photo being taken in court, despite the fact that his mugshot has been circulating online for the past three years.
But court proceedings were brief on Monday, with Evans filing an application for a Legal Aid attorney, leading to a postponement to August 11 for a lawyer to be appointed.
When approached by The Star on Monday, Evans’s fiancée wiped reddened eyes with well-manicured hands as she said he’d been “doing all right” since his arrest. However, she declined to comment on the case, at least until she had spoken to Evans.
As she prepared to leave the court in her BMW, a large van believed to be transporting Evans pulled up next to her car.
She got out of the car to hand over a care package to the fugitive, who could barely be seen in the back of the vehicle.
According to Britain’s National Crime Agency, Evans “was serving 21 years… for conspiracy to supply cocaine and fraudulent trading”. From his numerous schemes, it’s believed he accrued almost £40 million (about R718m).