Two cops arrested for helping ‘most wanted’ fraudster escape

2009-02-25 00:00

TWO policemen were arrested in Pietermaritzburg yesterday in connection with the escape of KwaZulu-Natal’s most wanted fraudster, Sipho Sthembiso Msomi, in December last year.

The two will face charges of defeating the ends of justice and of helping a prisoner to escape.

Detectives under the command of Senior Superintendent Gopz Govender launched the investigation that led to the arrest of the officers, aged 31 and 40.

They were arrested yesterday afternoon at the Pietermaritzburg Magistrate’s Court, where they are based, said police spokesman Senior Superintendent Henry Budhram.

“They were responsible for the transporting of prisoners to and from prison at the time of Msomi’s escape,” he said.

Fellow officers looked on in dismay as their colleagues’ firearms were confiscated, they were handcuffed together and led to the cells.

At the time of his escape, Msomi (36), of Kempton Park, was being held for defrauding state departments of more than R20 million.

During his application for bail, which was denied, he was unmasked as an alleged key player in a syndicate that has been defrauding the provincial Education, Housing, Agriculture, Arts and Culture and Public Works departments as well as the SA Social Security Agency.

He allegedly installed “spy software” on departmental computers to access user identities and passwords of employees.

Inspector Stephen Gouws of the SAPS commercial crime branch in Pietermaritzburg, who has spent years investigating Msomi, said he found out that Msomi had gone missing only “when I went to see him at New Prison last week”.

In 2006, Msomi pleaded guilty to similar charges in the Durban Commercial Crimes Court and was sentenced to five years’ imprisonment, wholly suspended, because he undertook to help the Scorpions in their investigations into the syndicate. Instead, he disappeared until his arrest in Ulundi in November last year.

Gouws told the court that some state witnesses and whistle-blowers in the case were murdered, allegedly by the syndicate.

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