Mohamed Billal Sheik and Zahida Rahaman are found guilty in Durban Magistrate's Court of a multi-million rand jewellery heist at Gateway. Picture: Shelley Kjonstad (ANA)
Mohamed Billal Sheik and Zahida Rahaman are found guilty in Durban Magistrate's Court of a multi-million rand jewellery heist at Gateway. Picture: Shelley Kjonstad (ANA)

Jewellery thieves found guilty of multi-million rand Gateway heist

By Tanya Waterworth Time of article published May 22, 2020

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Durban - Fugitives from justice and wanted for a daring multi-million jewellery heist, Mohamed Billal Sheik, 38, and Zahida Rahaman, 40, were picked up in East London on Monday and were found guilty in Durban Magistrate's Court  on Thursday. Sentencing proceedings are due to start this morning.

The couple appeared before Magistrate Sifiso Luthuli on charges of theft and housebreaking relating to a R16 million haul of jewellery and R500 000 in cash stolen from the Cherry Design Store in Gateway in 2013. 

During their trial in 2018, as judgment was about to be handed down, the couple did "a runner", escaping to East London until the long arm of the law caught up with them this week.  

At the time of the heist, Rahaman was employed as a sales consultant at the Cherry Design Store and although married, she was having a romantic relationship with Sheik. 

The court heard during the trial that the pair and Sheik's brother Imtiaz Hoosen, along with a fourth accomplice, planned the theft as Rahaman had access to the keys and security codes.  

During the trial which took place in 2018, the court heard that the couple planned the brazen theft and sat in a vehicle in the parking lot, directing the two accomplices who entered the shop, gained access to the safe and seized jewellery and cash. 

Rahaman was picked up by police the same night and taken to Durban North Police Station, while Sheik and Hoosen were arrested the following day. About R7 million worth of jewellery was recovered.

In November, 2018, as the trial drew to a close and the magistrate was preparing to hand down judgment, the trio left court and did not return. The magistrate issued warrants of arrest. Hoosen was found and sentenced to 15 years behind bars, but Sheik and Rahaman had disappeared.

They fled to East London, taking with them Rahaman's four children. State prosecutor, Joel Kistin said in court on Thursday, that warrants for their arrest were widely circulated around the country.

Private investigator on the case, Sean Pierce said that working with SAPS Durban North's Detective Warrant Officer Vicky Moodley and East London Hawks officers, the relentless search for the couple paid off and they were cuffed during a joint operation in the early hours on Monday morning in East London. 

In court on Thursday when handing down his verdicts, Magistrate Luthuli described Sheik as "the mastermind" behind the heist.

State prosecutor Joel Kisten said the fourth accomplice may still be charged. Sentencing proceedings were scheduled to start this morning.

The Independent on Saturday

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