Now KZN rich kids turn to crime

2008-08-08 00:00

Police have arrested the jet-setting, Humvee-driving son of a Westville millionaire for a string of armed home robberies in the Mariannhill area. The arrest took place in the early hours of Thursday morning after police managed to track down a friend of the suspect’s wife.

The suspect had, together with three of his friends, allegedly targeted houses in the Mariannhill and Mariannhill Ridge areas — storming into homes in the early hours and terrorising the occupants with knives and guns. In almost every case, the gang would flee in cars they stole from their victims at gunpoint.

Detective Inspector “JC” Zulu from the Provincial House Robbery Task Team told Weekend Witness he had been on the trail of the gang for several weeks and had a good idea that they lived in the Dassenhoek area, where items stolen in the home invasions were sometimes recovered.

On Wednesday night, Zulu and other members of his unit identified a woman who had been seen in the company of another woman who in turn had been seen with electronic goods taken in one of the robberies.

Although it seemed a long shot, Zulu and Detective Inspector Keith Caswell tracked this woman down and questioned her in the early hours of Thursday morning.

The woman told police that she and the woman she had been spotted with were childhood friends.

She told police this woman was married and that the husband was a strange man who often vanished in the early evening only to return the following morning.

She volunteered to lead them to where her friend lived.

Seconds after the police were shown this home, an armed home invasion robbery and car hijacking were reported to police and details broadcast over the police radio.

Caswell told Weekend Witness he immediately suspected the robbery was the work of the gang they were trying to track down.

He and Zulu then left the area with the plan of returning several hours later — when the suspect would hopefully return home with his loot.

When Caswell and Zulu returned, they spotted two men unloading a car reported hijacked in the earlier robbery. However, the two suspects managed to evade arrest and ran into nearby bushes.

Caswell called the Dog Unit and searched the bushes for the men, to no avail. But then he searched the home where he had been told the suspect was living.

At first, the residents expressed outrage at being visited by police in the early hours of the morning. The suspect’s mother-in-law and his wife hurled abuse at police from behind their locked security gate.

Finally, the suspect himself came down from his bedroom and spat at police. As soon as he appeared at the gate, Caswell knew he and Zulu had their man.

The suspect was arrested after a search of the house uncovered numerous items stolen in armed robberies. Police also discovered that their suspect appears to have made trips to Singapore and the UK for the purpose of buying himself the latest cellular phones.

As the man was being arrested, his parents arrived to plead for his release — driving a heavily customised imported Humvee. Each member of the suspect’s family reputedly owns a near identical vehicle.

The man arrested has yet to appear in court to answer charges of armed robbery and car hijacking. Police are expected to link him to numerous armed robberies.

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