Bogus ‘Witness’ writer cons boxers

2012-04-20 00:00

THE WITNESS intends to lay criminal charges against a man who masqueraded as a reporter for South Africa’s oldest newspaper at a workshop in Durban.

“He knows how to play the dice,” was how the general secretary of KZN’s Olympic Style Boxing Organisation, Siyabulela Mkwalo, described the imposter who did not baulk at bilking a bunch of boxers.

The amateur boxing organisation met this fake journalist during their two-week long workshop in Durban last month. Mkwalo said he first met the imposter at a Garden Court hotel, where they were staying for the first week of the workshop on March 21.

“He introduced himself as The Natal Witness reporter and called himself ‘Sihle’. After chatting to him he said he’d like to cover our event.

“His ‘editor’ then called us the following day,” Mkwalo said. Sihle then started to cover the workshops at the hotel and left in the evenings. He was the only journalist in the group.

Mkwalo said the boxers suspected nothing. They “wanted the coverage so much” because it was good for their sponsorship. On Friday, the fake journalist even interviewed the president of the organisation.

Mkwalo said they moved to the Ballito Lifestyle Hotel for the second week of their workshop. “Sihle” offered to cover another week and was allowed to stay in the hotel as part of their group.

When KZN Olympic Style Organisation asked for the newspaper in which the stories had been published, he told them there had been a problem with the truck that was supposed to deliver the newspapers.

Mkwalo said the man was very convincing. “He’d tell us that he’d just got off the phone with Loyiso Mtya the CEO of Boxing South Africa or with boxing commentator Dumile Mateza”.

The organisation said the fake hackran up a bar bill of about R1 700. When the hotel management and the Mkwalo approached him about the bill he said The Natal Witness will pay.” Mkwalo then gave Sihle a lift to a nearby ATM to withdraw money to pay the bar bill. That was the last day they saw him and realised that were conned.

“I also heard that Sihle is not even his real name. It’s said that he’s done a similar thing with Bafana Bafana,” Mkwalo said.

The organisation said they were not responsible for the con artist’s bar bill.

Ballito Lifestyle Hotel manager Andre van Wyk admitted that Sihle checked out of the hotel before paying.

“We’re currently trying to retrieve money from him. We called him and he said he’ll make the payment,” Van Wyk added.

A source who said he used to work with the man at a football club in Durban said he knew him as a liar. “That’s why he left the club,” he added.

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