Scammed series: Joburg woman on awareness drive after Ugandan boyfriend vanished with her R500,000

The South African Police Service (SAPS) is requesting Ugandan national Joseph Ssekasi, with aliases including Deon Mundari to come forward after Joburg woman Jabu Nxumalo (left) was scammed of more than R500,000. Picture: Supplied

The South African Police Service (SAPS) is requesting Ugandan national Joseph Ssekasi, with aliases including Deon Mundari to come forward after Joburg woman Jabu Nxumalo (left) was scammed of more than R500,000. Picture: Supplied

Published Jun 30, 2024


In Jabu Nxumalo’s vivid recollection, there was nothing amiss when she hooked up with a Joseph Ssekasi on dating site Tinder last year.

The Joburg mother was innocently hoping to get an honest, loving boyfriend when she joined the dating app, and soon she had Ssekasi courting her.

“At the time, he called himself Deron Mundari, and claimed to be from South Sudan. Honestly, there was nothing amiss about the guy,” Nxumalo said in an interview with IOL as part of an ongoing series on romance scams in South Africa.

“He seemed like a down to earth and a respectful person. Little did I know that he was in this relationship for a paycheck in the name of love.”

IOL has for years reported on several cases of hardworking women, particularly those who are in steady jobs including civil servants, who got scammed of millions of rand by unscrupulous men, who target vulnerable women in the name of dating.

Last month, IOL reported that a Congolese man, Joseph Hassan Yaye appeared before the Makhado Magistrate’s Court after a Limpopo-based woman, a member of the South African Police Service (SAPS) was scammed of her pension lump sum.

Yaye faces charges of fraud, according to Limpopo provincial police spokesperson, Colonel Malesela Ledwaba.

The police officer was allegedly convinced by scammers, including Yaye, to resign from the SAPS and to invest her payout money into a “business venture”, before the men vanished with her R500,000.

In Nxumalo’s case, within four months of meeting Ssekasi, the man vanished with her R510,000.

Part of the fraud involved a purported “ancestor’s voice” which instructed Nxumalo to approach different banks and raise R500,000 which she handed over to him at his place in Brakpan. This money, Nxumalo was told, was her contribution in a mysterious scheme which involved “ancestors” and prayers.

Joburg woman Jabu Nxumalo met Ugandan national Joseph Ssekasi on dating app Tinder last year, and at the time, Ssekasi claimed to be Deron Mundari and insisted he was from South Sudan. Picture: Supplied

Ssekasi insisted the Brakpan house, where Nxumalo visited, was his but she later found that the house was rented.

As the newfound love was blossoming, and Nxumalo had handed over her R510,000, the loving Ssekasi also appeared to hand over over R700,000 as his contribution into the investment.

Days later, Ssekasi notified Nxumalo that a business outing had come up and he would be out of Gauteng for days. Ssekasi bid farewell to Jabu on May 1, 2023, claiming to be travelling to Limpopo.

While he was supposedly in Limpopo, the lovebirds continued to communicate via calls and text messages. Days later, Nxumalo realised that her messages to Ssekasi had abruptly stopped going through, and she then suspected it could be a network issue.

At this stage, Nxumalo kept dismissing her natural instinct which kept telling her to go and check out Ssekasi’s house in Brakpan, where she had parted ways with her R510,000.

In happier times ... Joburg woman Jabu Nxumalo after hooked up with Joseph Ssekasi on dating app Tinder last year, and at the time, Ssekasi claimed to be Deron Mundari, claiming to be from South Sudan. Picture: Supplied

“Honestly, my intuition was telling me to go to his place but I stopped myself several times. I was asking myself, who will open for me, when I get there? On May 11, 2023, the date he had said he would be travelling back from Limpopo, I decided to drive to his place during lunch time. That is when I found a ‘house to let’ sign on the house,” she said.

“I was shocked and devastated. I then realised instantly that I had been scammed.”

The following day, Jabu went to open a case at Boksburg police station.

“When I got to the front desk, I waited for my turn and asked to speak to the constable in a private space,” Nxumalo said.

“The constable treatment me with respect, he took me to private boardroom and took my statement. He was empathetic and promised me that the police will do the best to assist me. I left the station with so much hope.”

A day after, Nxumalo was to be admitted in a psychiatric hospital as she had become suicidal.

“I had not slept for two nights,” she narrated.

“Just a day before I was discharged, I was called by a detective Khumalo from Boksburg police station who wanted us to meet the day after I leave the hospital. I then went with my brother to meet the detective,” Nxumalo said.

“While I was narrating my story, she stopped me and told me that as police, they can only arrest people they know their whereabouts, and that with cases of this nature, there is a low likelihood that a criminal can be sentenced,” she said.

“During our conversation, I showed her the picture of Ssekasi, the person who scammed me. Detective Khumalo did not event take the photo, and to-date she does not have a photo of my scammer, the person SAPS is hoping to catch one day.

“That engagement with the police detective actually depressed me more. I ended up asking detective Khumalo, if she was trying to tell me that there is nothing the police can do to help me,” said Nxumalo.

Nxumalo told IOL that while still in conversation with the detective, a woman sergeant joined them in the office.

“The sergeant came in and asked her colleague: Khumalo, how much did this one lose? and Khumalo told her I had lost R500,000. The sergeant remarked that instead of giving the money to the scammer, I should have given her the money instead,” she said.

“At that point, I was so broken and shattered. It was on that day, after that engagement with the police that I started planning how I was going to end my life. But by God's grace, I'm here to tell my story.”

More than a year later, the bubbly Nxumalo has not allowed the scam to bring her life down, but she is now actively involved in campaigns to raise awareness on the rampant love scams which are spiralling across South Africa.

Joburg woman Jabu Nxumalo is on a campaign to warn women across South Africa after she was scammed R510,000 by a man pretending to love her. File Picture

IOL this week approached the South African Police Service in Gauteng, and it confirmed that the docket in Jabu’s case was “temporarily closed”, pending the resurgence of new evidence or information on the alleged swindler.

Gauteng provincial police spokesperson, Lieutenant Colonel Mavela Masondo told IOL that if new evidence emerges regarding the whereabouts of the alleged swindler, the docket will be re-opened.

“This is a case of fraud and the case will be re-opened once there is new evidence or once we can get the suspect,” he said.

Masondo said the SAPS requests Ssekasi to contact the nearest police station. Community members who recognise Ssekasi should alert the police.

“Anyone who sees him is requested to call the nearest police station. He is required to help police with the investigation,” said Masondo.

Gauteng police spokesperson, Lieutenant Colonel Mavela Masondo. Fie Picture

According to Nxumalo, and she sent screenshots to IOL, Ssekasi and his “partners” are still prowling the streets of Gauteng and are behind several adverts and social media pages inviting people experiencing marriage problems, or people seeking to bring back a lost lover to contact them.

Jabu Nxumalo has been investigating and believes her scammer, working with different partners, are still prowling on social media. Picture: Supplied

“If I had the resources to track down their numbers, I would have solved all the cases of scammed women in South Africa,” she said.

As advice, Nxumalo appealed to women to be vigilant in love relationships — a trait which would have saved her R500,000.

“Red flags include a new boyfriend who is very interested in where you work and what you do. They will ask random questions, like are you renting or is it your house. The scammer will ‘love bomb’ their victims, which means attempting to influence you as a woman through over-the-top displays of attention and affection,” said Nxumalo.

“The scammers claim to be deeply in love within a few weeks of meeting for the first time. Within days or weeks, he will want to introduce the unsuspecting victim to his ‘family’. But most of all, if the new boyfriend wants to borrow some money from you … run for your life.”

In an interview with IOL, seasoned investigator Calvin Rafadi said in many instances, women working in professional environments are conned into taking early retirement or get cash loans. The scammer boyfriend then vanishes after receiving the money.

“The unsuspecting women are promised deals that are too good to be true. These guys when they approach a woman, they already have the motive to scam but they pretend to be in love and the woman would see it as an opportunity to build a future with this man. The relationship would be one-side, only the woman is in love,” said Rafadi.

He said the scammers are more than happy to have sex with their victims, which leaves the women with deep emotional scars when the scam later becomes apparent to the woman.

Crime expert Calvin Rafadi advised that with the scourge of vehicle theft, motorists should use the old-style gear locking devices. Picture: Supplied

Majority of the scammed women do have pictures of their scammers. However, the scammer is not always happy to take pictures with the woman.

Rafadi said some of the scammers are hanging out in places like Sunnyside in Pretoria.

More than 20 scammed South African women have teamed up and intend sharing pictures of their scammers online. The women say the scammers could be stopped if the SAPS and other law enforcement agencies shared the scammers pictures online and on the streets to raise awareness.

Rafadi said sharing pictures of the scammers will be a great idea.

“We need to circulate these pictures on social media so that we save the next victims. We need to expose these people. Their pictures and modus operandi must be made public. These men are very heartless and these scams are going on and on,” he said.