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'Heist doctor' appears in court


Matthew Burbidge

No charges were put to Dr Mveleli Gqwede (32), who is accused of harbouring two heist suspects,when he appeared in the Pretoria Magistrate's Court on Thursday.

Dr Gqwede was pulled off the N3 highway and arrested early on Tuesday after awaiting-trial prisoners Sipho Nkuna and Lassie Sibiya were found in his luxury townhouse in Craighall Park, Johannesburg.

Nkuna and Sibiya, along with prisoner Oupa Garekoe, overpowered and disarmed two public order policing unit members last Friday and walked out of the Pretoria Magistrate's Court.

Magistrate Estelle van Biljon warned Gqwede to appear on December 6 in the same court.

The doctor, who was born in Transkei, runs a thriving practice with two other doctors in Vosloorus. His relationship, if any, with Nkuna and Sibiya is not known.

After his appearance, Gqwede played a cat-and-mouse game with reporters and photographers, and stayed hidden inside the court building.

Fifteen men, including Garekoe, Nkuna and Sibiya, and well-known racing driver Willie Hepburn, were arrested in March 1995 and face 24 charges of armed robbery, eight charges of car theft, eight charges of fraud and two charges of kidnapping.

Sibiya and Nkuna escaped with alleged heist mastermind Collin Chauke in December 1997 and the two men were arrested about six weeks later.

Sibiya, Nkuna, Garekoe and Hepburn are expected to appear in the Pretoria Magistrate's Court on Monday.

Sibiya, Nkuna and Garekoe now face additional charges of escaping from custody.

Investigating officer Captain Hannes Conradie said that after the arrest of Nkuna and Sibiya, they had offered to show him where Garekoe was hiding out.

Conradie said they drove to Sunnyside in Pretoria and drove up and down streets and looked in flats, but did not find the escaper.

The men were then booked in to the C-Max ultra-high-

security prison.

Garekoe was arrested in a flat in Sunnyside by police task force members on Tuesday afternoon.


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