Johannesburg - An alleged conman who posed as a City Power official and defrauded hundreds of Joburg residents out of hundreds of thousands of rand has pleaded guilty to his crimes.

Lucas Malibongwe Cele was arrested in January last year in a sting operation conducted by the Gauteng Hawks, the City of Joburg and The Star after he attempted to bribe a reader, saying he would write off R350 000 arrears owed on a building in Hillbrow for R35 000.

A trap was set at a restaurant in Braamfontein, where he was arrested. He had produced a council “invoice” showing a zero balance, yet the money was still owing.

It has now emerged that ihis acts of fraud did not end there.

Cele - who called himself “Frans” - also “sold” houses, claiming they belonged to City Power and had been attached because of arrears. He has been in jail since his arrest last year.

The seven victims who were at the Johannesburg Magistrate’s Court on Friday eyed him with contempt and malice. They pointed at him, called him a “dog” and said they hope he rots in jail. Combined, they were defrauded of close to R250 000.

One of his victims, who did not want to be identified, said she paid the man a R35 000 deposit for a house he said was being sold by City Power for R90 000.

She and her sister went to the Jorissen Street offices to pay the deposit. There, Cele gave her documents to prove her ownership of the house in Rosettenville, as well as the keys.

But when she got to her new home, the keys did not work and there were people inside the house.

Her sister, who also did not want to be identified, was scammed of R6 000.

She said Cele came to her house twice, driving a Pajero, and on another occasion, a brand new Audi. He told her that he was an official from City Power and that her account for her Rosettenville house was in arrears of R48 000. He promised to clear the account if she paid him.

Cele will be sentenced next month.

The Star