Hawks bust trio for extortion

2010-09-21 00:00

PIETERMARITZBURG’S Directorate for Priority Crime Investigations unit (Hawks) has arrested a police constable based at the Alexandra Road police station for extortion.

Constable Sthembiso Ndlovu and two Congolese nationals, Jeff Winfrey and Kabeya Tshilumbu, were arrested on Wednesday last week at the Liberty Midlands Mall.

Investigating officer Captain Jageesh Devnarain Singh said the two Congolese had falsely accused Geon Saprano, another Congolese national who has South African citizenship, of stealing a tyre from Tshilumbu’s Chrysler. With the assistance of Ndlovu, a case was opened against Saprano.

Saprano’s vehicle was towed from his premises without his permission or knowledge and taken to the Mkondeni police pound.

The men then demanded R100 000 from Saprano for the case to be withdrawn and to get back his vehicle, also a Chrysler.

The victim said he didn’t have the money and that he could only give them R15 000.

Singh said, “Saprano came straight to us and we arranged the R15 000, and a meeting to hand the money over was set up. We waited until the money exchanged hands and we caught the men.

“This crime wouldn’t have been possible without the help of the constable, so he played a huge role in extorting money from the victim.

“We cannot tolerate incompetence and criminal elements within the police service.”

Yesterday the three were granted R1 000 bail each by the Pietermaritzburg Magistrate’s Court and will appear in court again on November 5. The Congolese handed over their passports to the Hawks and the investigation continues.

KZN police spokesperson Colonel Jay Naicker said cases of extortion involving police officers are not common, and he applauded the Hawks for a job well done.

He said the arrest is a positive sign that even the police are not immune to the law.

“This is a warning that being a police officer does not mean that one can commit crime and get away with it. The sad part is that he’s a young man and he just messed up his career. People should be more vigilant and report these things to the police because no one is above the law,” said Naicker.

He said Ndlovu’s commander will have to file a report to the provincial commissioner to effect his suspension from duty.

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