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Durban - “He said he had been hired to take me out for R10 000 and that he was on his way now to my business premises to shoot me.”
That was the threat made to Durban South businessman Ernest Jonck, who called “the hitman’s” bluff and lived to tell the tale, saying it was important to alert the business community about the scam.
Jonck said he first received a “call me” message on his phone about 10 days ago.
“I called the number and the man who answered asked if I was the owner of the business. When I said ‘yes’, he said he’d been paid R10 000 to take me out and was on his way.
“He sounded definite, there was no maybe that he was going to shoot me. But my first question was why would someone want to kill me?” he wondered.
According to Jonck, the “hitman” sounded less than 30 years old and and his English was difficult to understand.
“I told him I could not understand and would get a translator and call him back,” said Jonck.
Before phoning him back, Jonck contacted his clients.
“I wanted to find out if anyone was unhappy, but there seemed to be no problems. It was only then that I began to think more calmly and realised the threat did not make sense.”
He called the “hitman” back and asked him who or why would someone want to kill him. “He would not answer that, but his English was far better, so whether there was a second person involved, I’m not sure,” he said.
Jonck went to the Brighton Beach Police Station where he was going to ask a police officer to act as a translator.
“The police told me there had been a couple of similar incidents and that it was a scam. They said he would have asked for money to not carry out the ‘hit’.
“I think the fact he knew my details made it believable.
“It’s important to alert the public,” said Jonck.
He added that his company trucks bear details such as his cellphone number and the address of his premises, where he suspected the “hitman” could well have obtained his contact details.
And, on hearing about the incident, Independent Newspapers general manager Brian Porter said he had recently received an e-mail that stated a contract hit had been taken out on him, unless he was willing to cough up $3 000 (R25 000).
He ignored it as spam.
Rake Jeeves, of Community Orientated Policing, which monitors crime in the Durban South area, said the body was aware of the incident and that police mentioned they had received such reports.
SAPS spokesman Captain Thulani Zwane said that while people should not be intimidated, they must report any form of death threat to the police.
“If someone threatens to kill you, it is an offence. You must report it to your nearest police station,” said Zwane. - Independent on Saturday