‘Sighting’ of ‘White Widow’

2014-11-06 00:00

POLICE rushed to a claimed sighting of the world’s most-wanted female terror suspect — the “White Widow” — at a supermarket near Durban on Sunday.

And The Witness has established that this was the third South African Police Service response to a claimed sighting of British-born Samantha Lewthwaite around Durban in the past four months.

The widow of London 7/7 bomber Germaine Lindsay, Lewthwaite (31) is wanted by Interpol and various countries for her alleged involvement in several terror attacks, including at least one in Kenya in 2012.

She has lived in several countries and carries a false South African passport.

Yesterday, the manager of the Hillary Spar, near Malvern — who asked not to be named — said police had descended on the supermarket after a shopper had called to say she recognised a woman in the parking area as the White Widow.

Lewthwaite was recently the subject of a major documentary broadcast in South Africa.

The manager said the mystery woman left before police arrived, but police confirmed to staff they were investigating an alleged sighting of Lewthwaite.

He said they had noted a car registration number taken down by the caller, and also reviewed CCTV footage.

He said: “It showed a lady in a black headscarf and traditional clothing, (but) I suspect it was just a person bearing a resemblance to the terror suspect.”

The Witness understands that Hawks detectives have probed two other “sightings” of Lewthwaite in KZN, pursuing tip-offs to the South Coast and Umhlanga.

Both were ruled out as hoaxes, and no report has yet been recorded at a national level for the claimed sighting on Sunday.

An officer close to the probe, who could not be named, said Lewthwaite would be foolish to enter the country.

“She knows she is wanted here, and in South Africa we have structured law enforcement that would be a significant deterrent.

“She is far more likely to be in hiding in Somalia, where she can fit into a terrorist network, and it is just one border away from Kenya, where the bombing happened,” the source said.

Meanwhile, Shane Hopkins, who runs a horse-riding school near Umhlali, insists that earlier this year he saw a woman with a “striking resemblance” to Lewthwaite. He said she asked about taking lessons.

“Her face had been in the press, and when I saw her, she looked so like Lewthwaite. She asked about lessons for herself and a child, and said she lived in Stanger. She arrived at the stables in a white Mercedes driven by an Indian man,” he said.

Yesterday, SAPS spokesperson Jay Naicker said he was not aware of any ongoing investigation into the Hillary claim.

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