First a trusted Standard Bank employee apparently managed to vanish from work with more than R1.7-million in his gym bag - now he has disappeared from Pollsmoor prison, probably using a faked bail document.

Authorities realised former foreign exchange clerk Xolani "Lucky" Mrubata was missing when he failed to appear in the Cape High Court on June 29 for judgment on the bank theft charges,

The money, which has never been found, included American dollars, francs and yen.

It turned out that Mrubata, who had never been officially granted bail, had been released from Pollsmoor days before he was to face judgment.

Awaiting-trial prisoners granted bail often have to return to prison until family or friends come up with the bail money.

Police believe that on May 20, the last time Mrubata appeared in court, a corrupt police officer based at the court switched his warrant of detention with a document indicating that he could be freed on bail of R1 500.

The fake form then allegedly accompanied Mrubata back to Pollsmoor, to wait for someone to arrive with the bail money.

On June 18, 11 days before he was due to face judgment, someone turned up at Pollsmoor, produced what later turned out to be a fake identity book, and paid the bail. Mrubata was freed.

The scam was uncovered only when he failed to appear in court to face judgment on June 29.

While internal investigators are probing police corruption, investigating officer Stoney Steenkamp is concentrating on finding Mrubata, who is believed to be hiding in Khayelitsha.

Mrubata, now 28, first hit the headlines in January 2001, when he walked out of his Merriman Square branch office one lunch-hour, carrying a gym bag, and never returned.

Police later ascertained that a huge amount of cash was missing from the bank.

Mrubata's girlfriend, Lulekwa Siqila, 31, who was a manager of another bank in Bellville, also disappeared. But police traced their cellphone calls and found them in Umtata two weeks later.

Siqila was seven months pregnant at the time and was eventually given bail, but Mrubata, considered a flight risk, was denied bail and remained in custody.

In an odd twist to the case, five months after the couple fled, Siqila was kidnapped in Rondebosch where she lived with her sister, apparently by a gang that thought she knew where the cash was.

She was later freed by her captors, returned home and appeared in court, alone, last month.

Her case was postponed to July 23.

  • If you have information, call Captain Steenkamp at 021 424 8900.