Telesure extortion accused granted bail

2015-06-18 19:28

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Johannesburg - The two men arrested in connection with an alleged plot to extort $1m from Telesure Investment Holdings were granted bail on Thursday. 

Dalton Lentswe Mononyane, a self-employed computer system analyst was granted R5 000 bail, while Ghanaian businessman, Henry Kofi Panti was granted R20 000 bail.

Applying for bail, the two men claimed they never knew each other until they were arrested by the Hawks and appeared alongside each other in court.

While Mononyane had not revealed much during his bail application, he made contact with News24 where he explained that in 2014, he worked for a company called LRMG and they were contracted by Telesure to investigate issues surrounding their payroll data not synchronising with the systems. 

"I was given authority and access to work on their four servers linked to the... system but we as LRMG never had access to their payroll servers," Mononyane claimed in a Facebook message.

"During my investigations I stumbled across some comprehensive payroll data... By virtue of me opening this binary file, it was unknowingly auto saved on my laptop."

'Carried on with my life'

Mononyane said his employer and Telesure criticised him for having the information. 

"This was last yr [sic] in November. I subsequently resigned in December and left the issue behind and carried on with my life," he said. 

This year on May 10, he was arrested by the Hawks at around 03:00 at his home where he had been sleeping with his wife and five children.

In an affidavit, the other accused said a man by the name of Odure and his wife Sibulele asked him to receive money on their behalf into his bank account. 

Panti said the couple informed him the money was being transferred from overseas and the deal was above board. 

He agreed and, later that day, received a call from someone asking him to verify his banking details and ID number. 

He provided the caller with the information, who then asked him how they would receive the data from him. 

He told the caller he knew nothing about what they were talking about and the call was cut.

Panti said he later received another call where the person said he would rather give him $250 000 in cash in Sandton. 

He told the court he refused to accept the money in cash and insisted it be deposited into his account so they had proof of payment. 

Panti claimed he was later arrested; relayed the entire incident to the police and took them to Odure's house. 

Odure was not found and was alleged to have since moved from the premises.

Acted out of desperation

Panti's lawyer submitted that his client had been fully co-operative. 

"It is strange to me that if he was aware of what was going on, he would provide all his banking and personal details, would give you all the details," said Corne Kriel for Panti.

He told the court that he struggled to understand what offence his client had committed, adding that his client should have instead been a witness in the matter. 

The State pulled out all the stops to prevent the pair from getting bail and put investigating officer Colonel Pieter Johannes Croucamp on the stand. 

Opposing Panti's bail, he claimed that Panti, who has South African citizenship, was found in possession of two passports, one of which was believed to have been fraudulent.

Through his lawyer, Panti explained that he had traveled to Ghana using his South African passport to visit his ailing father. 

While there, he lost his documentation. He was then informed that one of his daughters back in South Africa was ill. He attempted to apply for another passport, but was told he would need to wait six months. 

Panti then secured another passport under another name and used it to travel back to South Africa. 

His lawyer maintained he acted out of desperation and had never used the incorrect passport again. He had since applied for and received a new South African passport. 

Meanwhile, both the men were ordered to remain in the country as part of their bail condition. Panti was also barred from trying to apply for travel documentation. 

The pair would return to court on June 30.

Read more on:    johannesburg  |  crime

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