Come on Mike, tell us your story

2013-12-04 00:00

HI there, Mike.

How are you doing? Still in rural Cornwall?

So, tell me, what’s been happening in your life since you left our sunny shores for the cooler climes of the UK? Why did you go? Was it because things got a bit hot for you back in sizzling SA?

There are so many questions, Mike. I really hope we’ll speak and even meet one day, where you’ll unpack what happened and why.

In recent court documents, a local lawyer and a man who called you a friend — Rob Dawson — said he had no doubt that because you’re a fugitive from justice, you would continue to read The Witness electronically on the Internet. I hope you are reading this. Have you been logging in from some far-flung Internet service, checking what’s being written about you from time to time? Oh, in case you missed it, Dawson is trying to find you to let you know about an impending lawsuit he hopes to slap on you.

It’s not for me or this newspaper to find you guilty of what you’ve been accused of — the 45 counts of fraud totalling over R20 million. I do, however, hope that the courts will have an opportunity to present their case against you sometime soon.

What I know with certainty is that your disappearance coincided with financial ruin for many, and a hornets’ nest of vitriol and suspicion, as those left behind began finger pointing and playing the blame game. I have spent hours speaking to those you left behind. Most of them are very bitter. They believe you could not have acted alone, they accuse others of colluding with you. I would print the comments of one person, to have another tell me I should not trust a word from the first person’s lips. Suspicion is rife as accusations fly. Many of your former clients and staff blame the police for the slow pace of the investigation. While the police have, indeed, consistently been tight lipped about what they are doing, or not doing, to find you, this must have given you some reassurance. You were confident enough to register as a temporary teacher in the UK using your name. I am dying to know more about that. Have you run out of money?

The thing that gets to me, Mike, besides the obvious fact that R20 million is missing, is the fact that so many of those who were hurt when you left unexpectedly, seemed to have liked you so much. I frequently heard you described as a really nice guy. Many of your staff and clients called you a friend. They said they liked you. They trusted you.

One woman, who initially shouted at me for writing about processes to extradite you from the UK, thinking it would tip you off and make you flee again, later called to apologise for her outburst. She said she realised that the articles served to raise awareness about you, in view of the police’s inaction. She herself lost her life’s savings in the region of R1,5 million, and is now approaching 70. She had known you for over 30 years and had implicit faith in you.

This woman said that you had called her shortly before your disappearance to try to get her to invest even more money with you. A widow, she was working in the UK at the time but was going to return to South Africa and prepare to retire. Following your disappearance, she has had to continue working, when she should be retired, relaxing and enjoying the fruits of a lifetime of hard work. She asked not to be named but I am pretty sure you will know who she is. She said that the last time she spoke to you, you called her trying to get her to transfer £10 000 to you. You said you had a good deal.

“He said to me: ‘You will never get a deal like this again. I’m your friend.’”

You called yourself her friend. “He knew how hard I worked. I trusted him. All I want now, is for that bastard to rot. I want him to look at me, face to face.”

While this former friend of yours acknowledges that she has come to terms with the fact that she will never see her money again, she wants justice for herself and all the others who have been left out of pocket by your absence.

Another person who wants closure is your wife, Charma. She wants to divorce you, but can’t find you to serve the divorce papers.

Having tracked you down recently, the UK Sun newspaper quotes you as saying you are not in the wrong and that people here are. Come on, Mike. Show yourself. Explain.

I can’t promise you forgiveness from those you have hurt, but I can promise to let you tell your story from your perspective on the pages of this newspaper and explain why you did what you felt you had to do. I think a lot of people here, who used to be your friends, would like to read that.

Best regards,

Steph

• Stephanie Saville is The Witness news editor. She can be contacted at

newsed@witness.co.za

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