‘Extortion plots have no connection’

2014-01-27 00:00

THE police say there is no connection between alleged attempts at extortion against President Jacob Zuma’s wife Nompumelelo MaNtuli Zuma and former national police commissioner Bheki Cele.

The Sunday Tribune reported yesterday that a 29-year-old Tanzanian man had been arrested in Durban after allegedly threatening to expose “secrets” about first lady’s bodyguard. The man, identified as Steven Ongolo, was reportedly arrested on Friday afternoon for extortion. Ongolo’s arrest came after the recent arrest of a 24-year-old Nigerian man who Durban police tracked and arrested in Cape Town for death threats, abusive calls and extortion demands to former police commissioner Bheki Cele. It was reported that the man said he had been hired as a hitman, and demanded more money from Cele for not killing him.

Police spokesperson Colonel Jay Naicker said yesterday there was no connection between the cases, and Ongolo was not being investigated for extortion attempts against other prominent people.

According to the Tribune, Ongolo had contacted a number of newspapers last week, making sensational claims about MaNtuli Zuma. He claimed he had received repeated payments from MaNtuli Zuma, amounting to about R200 000, over a three-year period. While denying blackmailing MaNtuli Zuma, he reportedly claimed to “know too much about her”, and said he was prepared to testify to this in court.

The newspaper reported that, according to Ongolo, the secrets concern MaNtuli Zuma’s “close friendship” with her bodyguard Phinda Thomo, who reportedly committed suicide by shooting himself in the bathtub of his rented Soweto house in 2009. Naicker was quoted as saying that Ongolo would soon appear in court on charges of extortion after MaNtuli Zuma lodged a complaint.

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