Burglars hit Oyster Box hotel

2012-06-07 00:00

TWO workers at the posh Oyster Box Hotel in Umhlanga combined tricks from several Hollywood movies to break open a safe and make off with a significant stash of money.

And just like in the movies, one of the suspects, aged 28, was cheated out of his share of the loot when his accomplice disappeared with the money. He has not been seen since.

The men, both employed in the maintenance department, went to great lengths to open the safe. One of them used an angle grinder.

Management at the Oyster Box confirmed the incident yesterday, as did police. However, neither party would state the amount stolen.

The five-star hotel regularly hosts celebrities, royalty and foreign guests of repute who pay up to R50 000 for a night for the most opulent suites.

Prince Albert of Monaco and his South African bride, Charlene Wittstock, are keen patrons.

Last Monday guests would have been completely unaware of the unfolding heist as the suspects put their elaborate plan to work.

Hotel general manager Wayne Coetzer said: “I can confirm that the hotel safe was forcibly opened and a sum of money removed.

“Hotel security/surveillance cameras provided evidence of the intrusion, which has now been handed over to the police and is the subject of an ongoing investigation.

“Until this investigation has been concluded, I can provide no further comment,” he said.

An investigator with inside knowledge told The Witness that the suspect employee arrived at work at 5.30 am and climbed into the ceiling, where he spent the day hidden from view.

When staff left to go home, he came down from his nook, met his accomplice and unlocked the finance office where the safe is housed.

Using a trolley, they apparently wheeled the drop-safe to the plant room where the noise of equipment and machinery would disguise their efforts to crack it.

The investigator said one accomplice was locked inside the plant room and attacked the safe with an angle grinder.

After concerted effort, he broke through. With the cash in his hand, the suspect who had remained on watch outside the plant room persuaded his colleague to leave without a cent and to meet him at a taxi rank later where the money would be split.

A camera captured the 28-year-old running out of the hotel, heading for the rendezvous point.

But his co-worker, a foreign national, failed to arrive and is still at large. The Witness source said the amount of money stolen was more than R100 000.

On Friday, a suspect identified as Thokozani Ndwandwe was arrested. Police spokesperson Colonel Jay Naicker said he appeared in the Verulam Magistrate’s Court on Monday, charged with housebreaking with intent to steal and theft. He was remanded in custody until July 11.

Join the conversation!

24.com encourages commentary submitted via MyNews24. Contributions of 200 words or more will be considered for publication.

We reserve editorial discretion to decide what will be published.
Read our comments policy for guidelines on contributions.

24.com publishes all comments posted on articles provided that they adhere to our Comments Policy. Should you wish to report a comment for editorial review, please do so by clicking the 'Report Comment' button to the right of each comment.

Comment on this story
Comments have been closed for this article.

Inside News24

Traffic Alerts
There are new stories on the homepage. Click here to see them.


Create Profile

Creating your profile will enable you to submit photos and stories to get published on News24.

Please provide a username for your profile page:

This username must be unique, cannot be edited and will be used in the URL to your profile page across the entire 24.com network.


Location Settings

News24 allows you to edit the display of certain components based on a location. If you wish to personalise the page based on your preferences, please select a location for each component and click "Submit" in order for the changes to take affect.

Facebook Sign-In

Hi News addict,

Join the News24 Community to be involved in breaking the news.

Log in with Facebook to comment and personalise news, weather and listings.